SP’s Coach William Stewart
Published 12:00 am Friday, June 8, 2007
Stewart balances the game: half Tiger, half Mudcat
By Daniel Waide
The Mississippi Mudcats, Mississippi’s only professional football team, are in the playoffs and will host round one against the Tallahassee Titans on Sunday, June 10 in Tupelo in their first year as part of AIFA.
The most amazing aspect of the team this year are the players themselves. One such player is Mississippi’s William Stewart, from the metropolis known as Pontotoc.
Stewart began his football career at Pontotoc High School where he played one of the most vital roles on a team, center. As such he was named captain his senior year. After graduating from Pontotoc Stewart went on to the next level and became a Delta Devil with Mississippi Valley State University. As a Delta Devil he was named a team captain his junior and senior years.
After completing college Stewart began looking to take his game to the next level with stops along the way with teams such as the Arkansas Twisters, but Mississippi was calling him home.
Stewart made his way back to Tupelo as a part of the Mississippi Mudcat squad. Stewart is one of five Mudcats to make the league all-star team along with teammates Derrick White, Tommy Jones, Josh Smith and Larry Wright. Stewart has done so while registering over 22 pancake blocks as well as allowing zero sacks this entire season.
What makes Stewart’s success such an amazing accomplishment is that the Mudcats are not Stewart’s only team. Since April he has also been the offensive line coach at a school most people know as South Panola University.
Like teammate Darryl Clark, wide receiver coach of the Tupelo Golden Wave, Coach Stewart has had to find time between his season as a Mudcat and his coaching duties in the spring at South Panola. Coaching at South Panola will be no easy task for Stewart, as he comes in at a time when the Tigers have won 60 consecutive games and four state championships.
Stewart coaches how he plays, “Play hard and let stuff happen.” That’s what he tells his players and that’s what he tells himself, what many would call “walking the talk.”
Like almost everybody out there, Stewart has a role model, someone who he says is like a second father to him, Wayne Mahon, a successful Pontotoc businessman. Stewart said Mahon was there for him and has always given him someone to look up to.
Then there is that one play of the season that you never forget, that tackle, that touchdown, that block. For Stewart it was that touchdown.
Stewart may play center of the offensive line, but against Baltimore he took out Antonio Peeples at nose guard for one play. That one play the quarterback fumbles and Stewart picked the ball up and ran it in for a touchdown. The rest of the players said he was just that kind of guy who would do something like that, especially when he doesn’t even play defense.
Stewart wanted to thank one man in particular for helping make this season a success for him, Coach Lance Pogue, new South Panola head football coach. Stewart said Pogue has helped him get through this season both as a coach and as a player, and he couldn’t have done it without him.
As Coach Stewart would say, “Play hard and let stuff happen.”