Thursday, November 29, 2007
Coach Wicker faces familiar team for championship
By BARRY BURLESON
Keith Wicker got a telephone call Saturday from a Centreville Academy player.
“He told me, ‘I can’t wait to see you,’” Wicker said.
“I’d coached all those kids since the seventh grade.”
Wicker, Marshall Academy’s first-year head coach, spent 16 years as an assistant at Centreville. His last season there was 2005.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said.
Wicker will be opposing long-time Centreville head coach Bill Hurst in this week’s Mississippi Private School Association Class AA state championship game. He has led the Tigers since 1972.
“He’s a great coach and a good friend,” Wicker said. “We’re the same age. We went to college together at Southwest. I’ve known him for a long time.”
Hurst was not available Monday via telephone. Assistant coach Brian Stutzman said the game takes on extra meaning. Stutzman has coached at Centreville 12 years and he played football there when Wicker was a coach. He graduated high school with Coach Wicker’s son Trey.
“First of all, we’re playing for a state championship, which gives us a lot of pride,” Stutzman said, “and then being able to play Coach Wicker makes it more special to us. There will be a lot of memories – no matter who wins or loses.”
Marshall will be appearing in the state title game for just the second time in school history. The Patriots lost 28-7 to Wilkinson Christian in 1988.
Centreville will be making its 10th appearance in the state title game and will be seeking its seventh state championship.
“They have a tradition down there,” Wicker said. “That’s what we’re trying to do here.”
The Tigers knocked off Trinity Episcopal 35-14 last week to win the south half crown. They improved to 12-2. The Patriots beat Kirk 14-7 to win the north. They improved to 12-1.
Wicker said MA better be ready for a “hard-nosed football game.”
“Centreville is a power team,” he said. “They have two good running backs – one who runs hard right at you and one who is fast and shifty. They have a big line.”
Offensively, Wicker said there will be some similarities between the two teams, but defensively “we’re totally different.”
The Tigers feature a 4-3 defense, while the Patriots go with a 5-man front.
“I think we can play with them,” said Wicker. “We need to go out and show them we’re there to play.
“I’m excited. The kids are excited. This is great.”
Coach Wicker said he hopes his 79-year-old mother, Lois Wicker, can attend the game. She lives in Liberty and has not been able to see a Marshall game.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Robinson-Hale Stadium on the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton.
Other game notes
Admission is $7.
Marshall Academy will be the home team and wear its blue jerseys.
Souvenir t-shirts will be available for $15. Souvenir programs are $2.
Marshall Academy classes will dismiss at 12 noon on Friday.
Centreville’s school colors are purple, gold and white. The school is located on the county line of Amite and Wilkinson in the southwest corner of Mississippi approximately 50 miles north of Baton Rouge, La; 40 miles west McComb; and 45 miles southeast of Natchez.
Marshall Academy and Centreville met this fall for the state fast-pitch softball championship, with the Lady Patriots taking the championship trophy.
The Class A state football championship game, between Bayou Academy and Glenbrook School, will be held Friday afternoon, kicking off at 1:30 at Mississippi College.
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