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Javon leads revival for Bulldogs

Natchez High School senior athlete Javon Washington practices with his teammates Thursday afternoon at the Chester-Willis baseball field in Natchez. (eric Shelton / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Placekicking wasn’t working out, so Natchez High senior Javon Washington tried his hand at throwing.

The rest is history.

Washington went on to start as quarterback all four years of his high school football career for the Bulldogs. He also played basketball and baseball for NHS.

“I’ve played sports ever since I was like 5,” Washington said. “I played T.M. Jennings Little League baseball, and I played basketball at Martin Gym.”

Washington was exposed to football at Natchez High School when he was in the fourth grade, and Washington said that’s when he began trying to kick.

“My granddad was a coach at the high school, and I kind of figured I liked it,” Washington said. “I used to try to kick field goals — I didn’t know I’d turn out to be a quarterback.”

Washington said he made the switch when he was in seventh grade at Robert Lewis Middle School.

“I could never kick it through the upright,” he said. “I used to just play around. I gave up after a while and started throwing. The ball was about as big as I was back then.”

When he got to Natchez High, Washington’s abilities as a quarterback thrust him into the starting position right away.

“It was tough, being young,” Washington recalls. “It was my first time ever starting in high school, and everyone was older, stronger and bigger than I was.”

But Washington helped lead the Bulldogs to three straight playoff appearances in his 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade seasons.

“My best memory was probably making the playoffs my 10th grade year, because we hadn’t made the playoffs 11 years before that,” Washington said. “You could say that’s when (head) coach (Lance) Reed turned the corner with the program.”

Washington also played basketball for Natchez High during his high school career along with best friend and teammate Trevon Chatman, who recently was selected as The Natchez Democrat’s 2010-11 All-Metro boys player of the year.

“We have a good connection,” Washington said. “We hang out together, and we’re a good tandem in all three sports. He and Derrian Johnson are my go-to guys at wide receiver (when I’m playing quarterback).”

Washington said he enjoyed playing basketball with the Bulldogs, despite sitting out during his junior season.

“I just lost love for the game,” he said. “But my senior year I wanted to come back and help the team.”

If there’s one sport Washington likes as much as football, it’s baseball. When he’s not pitching, Washington is primarily a shortstop, although he can play multiple positions, he said.

“Pitching is my favorite, because I’m good at it,” Washington said. “I have a fastball, curve, changeup and slider. I can use any pitch as an out pitch depending on which one is going good at the time.”

Washington signed with Delta State to play football, and hopes to be good enough to go pro in either that or baseball.

“It would be a hard decision if I had to choose either one. I don’t know which one I’d pick,” Washington said.

Washington is the son of Joseph and Tammy Washington. He credited them, his grandmother, family friend Charlotte Dotson and Reed for helping him develop as an athlete and person.

“My parents have been really supportive,” he said. “They try to come to every game they can, no matter what sport. I could be playing hockey or something.”

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