SP Coach Wright
By Myra Bean
Though he does not want to make this a big deal, South Panola’s defensive coordinator Willis Wright is stepping down from his position.
“I have tried that a couple of times and ended back on the sideline,” Wright said. “You just never know. If the fish stop biting, I may just come back.”
Wright is an avid fisherman.
He is not retiring as he has already retired. According to South Panola superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer, Wright was under contract to work the maximum amount of days that do not jeopardize his retirement.
Wright has a storied career at South Panola which includes his hands in six of the seven state championship trophies which line the trophy case.
He left South Panola after the 1993 season and then coached North Delta to a state championship in 2000. North Delta returned to the state championship in 2001 but did not win. In 2002, Wright returned to South Panola as defensive coordinator.
Wright led South Panola to its first ever state championship back in 1993. That team also boasts current Pittsburgh Steeler cornerback Deshea Townsend and former NFL linebacker Dwayne Rudd of the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns.
Head coach Lance Pogue said he, Shaffer and principal Dr. Gearl Loden will have to meet to see in which direction to go to fill the position.
They do not know if they will be able to find a retired person to fill that position, so they will have to look into getting a teacher.
Other postseason changes are occurring around the state.
Wright’s son, Jack, has joined Northwest head coach Ricky Woods’ staff as an assistant coach.
“He’s into this wide open, newfangled stuff,” Coach Wright said of Jack. “He is a pretty good coach. He has been around it all his life. I am sure he picked up something from me.”
Pogue said he is looking for a game to take the fourth spot on the schedule.
Rumors have surfaced about ESPN flying the Tiger team to play Independence, N.C. Pogue said there is nothing to that. They are just rumors.
Moss Point announced the retirement of 17-year head coach Jerry Alexander. Alexander led Moss Point to four state championship titles, two in back-to-back years against South Panola.
In other high school coaching carousel news, West Point head coach Bubba Davis was hired as Columbus’ coach.
According to The Clarion-Ledger’s Rod Walker, Grady McCluskey, who led the Franklin County football team to two straight 3A title games, resigned and is headed to serve as offensive coordinator at Columbus under Davis. Franklin County won the title in 2006 but lost to Noxubee County in 2007.
A 1987 West Point High graduate, McCluskey will reunite with his former coach Bubba Davis at Columbus. Davis was McCluskey’s head coach in high school.
Superintendent at Columbus High School is Dr. Del Phillips, former South Panola High School principal.
Columbus had a 14-0 halftime lead over South Panola last season and the Tigers scored 21 unanswered points to take the district win October 12.