Two Natchez High players named to state All-Star teams

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 28, 2010

NATCHEZ — The Natchez High School football program has enjoyed some unprecedented success the past three years, and a couple of the players responsible for that success have been rewarded for their accomplishments.

Natchez defensive lineman Justin Hamilton was recently selected to play in the Mississippi-Alabama-All-Star Classic Dec. 11 in Mobile, Ala., while Bulldogs quarterback Javon Washington was tabbed to play in the Bernard Blackwell Classic Dec. 18 in Ocean Springs.

Hamilton is the first Natchez High player to be selected for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic since offensive lineman Anthony Strauder in 2004.

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Strauder went on to play for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

“It’s a big thrill for me,” Hamilton said of being selected. “I’m really excited to be selected for that big game coming out of Natchez High School.”

Hamilton is one of just 40 players in the state selected for the game, which pits the top players from Mississippi against the top players from Alabama.

Hamilton said the success of the Natchez program the last three years has brought attention to the great athletes coming out of the school.

“There is a lot of great talent here,” Hamilton said. “For years, that talent got overlooked. But the last couple years we’ve had success and people are noticing the talent.”

Hamilton will be joined on the team by Wilkinson County offensive lineman James Maiden and wide receiver Devin Fosselman, who were also selected to play in the game.

While Hamilton will be playing in Mobile, Washington will be showing off his talents one week later in Ocean Springs in the Bernard Blackwell Classic, which pits players from the northern part of Mississippi against players from the southern part of the state.

Washington is one of two quarterbacks on the South team, with the other being Colin Bray from Vancleave.

And the senior said he was taken aback by the honor.

“It’s something I wasn’t expecting,” Washington said. “I was excited, all my hard work paid off.”

Washington said he spent the summer working on reading the defenses, and getting stronger and faster, and that has paid off, especially in his ability to run the football.

“I think I’m a dual threat,” Washington said. “I can run and pass. I worked all summer on my running game. While everybody else is sleeping on Sunday’s, I‘m working out.”

It is that work ethic that has helped Washington and Hamilton be leaders of what could be the most successful senior classes in Bulldog football history.

A Natchez win over Wingfield on Friday combined with a Hattiesburg loss to Terry would mean the Bulldogs would make the playoffs for the third straight year, something that has never been done since the school opened in 1989 after the consolidation of North and South Natchez high schools.

But Natchez High coach Lance Reed is cautious about crowning this senior class the best just yet.

“The question is how they’re going to finish,” Reed said. “Many classes have taken the throne as the best, and this one still has some work to do to get in that kind of talk.”

But Washington, for one, is confident that he will lead his team to the playoffs once again this season.

“These last two games are guaranteed wins,” Washington said. “I want to lead the team through the playoffs.”