Natchez wins middle school district title for second straight year

Published 1:17 am Sunday, November 12, 2017

As a physical education teacher, Joshua West splits his day-to-day time between Robert Lewis Magnet School and Morgantown Middle School. But when the two schools come together, they are a force to be reckoned with.

West recently led the Natchez-based middle school football team to its second consecutive district championship, ending its season a perfect 8-0.

“It’s been great,” the third-year coach said. “The goal always was to repeat. It’s a mindset.”

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The team, West said, is composed of approximately 20 children from each school, and includes students from the seventh and eighth grades.

While West said preparation for the season involves a lot of traveling back and forth, he makes it work.

“We bus the kids from Morgantown to Robert Lewis for practice every day,” he said. “I also work with the kids over the summer. We lift weights and things, so we would be prepared.”

The dedication to the game is exactly what West credits to his team’s success.

In his first year on the job, West lost two games during the season while subsequently falling in the championship game. Last year, the team lost one game and went on to win the title.

Having not lost a game this year, West said the progression is something he couldn’t be happier with.

“It’s a great feeling. I was originally put in the position to be the head coach, but instead of being scared I took the opportunity that was given to me,” he said. “The biggest challenge was not knowing how to be a head coach. I didn’t know how to do that at first. I corrected a lot of things my second year, and this year I knew what I wanted and how to do it.”

This year’s championship game — held on Oct. 19 in Natchez — was one he won’t forget, either, West said.

Natchez defeated Wilkinson County, 40-6.

“We were escorted to the game by the fire department and we had the game ball delivered by a helicopter that landed on the field,” he said. “We had a big pep rally at Morgantown, and the game itself is when everything calmed down.”

Moving forward, West said he is ready to do it all over again.

“I don’t want to knock on wood, but I’m excited for my kids next year,” he said. “Some of my main kids were seventh graders this year.”

Even more exciting than building football players, West said, is the chance to teach them about life.

“The whole point of being a coach to me is not about winning or losing,” he said. “I catch myself preaching all the time. I see so much potential in these kids.

“One thing I’ve learned is that kids will understand things in there own time. You can’t give up on them when you want to or you think you need to. I didn’t know how I would make it work, but now I do it every day. It’s definitely been rewarding.”