• Walker Bailey

Jeff Roberts ready to lead 'blue-collar' Choctaw County

Jeff Roberts tosses a ball before kickoff of the 2018 MHSAA 3A State Championship in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Roberts served as Water Valley's defensive coordinator for the last six seasons and recently was named head coach at Choctaw County High School. | Photo by Keli Lindsey

After spending the last six years as defensive coordinator at Water Valley, Jeff Roberts has been named the new head coach of the Choctaw County Chargers.

Roberts was introduced as the new head coach on April 17 and has just finished a state championship campaign at the aforementioned Water Valley. According to Roberts, his Chargers are going to be a hard-working, blue-collar football team.

“These kids are blue-collar kids,” Roberts said. “They are there to work their butts off, and they want to win football games. This has been a blue-collar program, and I don't want to change the culture of a program where the kids already want to put the work in. I want to continue to emphasize that work ethic and the want to win football games.”

In his last few seasons with Water Valley, Roberts has worked under the helm of head coach Brad Embry. According to Roberts, the list of things that he learned watching Embry is lengthy.

“There are a lot of things I can take from Coach Embry,” Roberts said. “I have a great deal of respect for him, and I really enjoyed my time [at Water Valley]. It was hard for me to tell him and the kids that I was leaving that day."

One of the biggest things he learned from Embry was how to adjust and change plans in the field of coaching.

"He taught me to have a plan in place for each day, but be willing to adjust if something isn't working," Roberts said. "If it isn't working, then change it up, and let's get it to where it is working and we can win some football games. He’s answered every question I have had, and I couldn't have asked for a better and more supportive boss.”

A couple of the things that Roberts preaches when coaching are energy and physicality. According to him, he sees a lot of similarities between the players at Choctaw County and the athletes that he worked with at Water Valley.

“These kids are going to be very similar,” Roberts said. “They’re similar in the fact that they work extremely hard, play very physical, and they want to play great football. I want to continue to preach that physicality that we preached at Water Valley.”

Roberts has a vision for this program, but according to him, there won't be a rebuilding phase. The Chargers return a bulk of their offensive production to 2019, and Roberts believes that this program can continue to move forward early in his tenure.

“As far a year one goes, I want to come in and be as successful as I can be,” Roberts said. “I think we can have a great deal of success in this first year because they have had success in the past, and I have talked to the coaches and the kids down there. This is a football community, and they have numerous state championships between the schools that combined there (Ackerman and Weir in 2013). I want to get in there and start working and take that to the highest point that we can."

According to Roberts, he’s excited about trying to ignite the Charger community and get people excited about the future of Choctaw County football.

“I need to get into the community and meet a lot of people,” Roberts said. “I think in order for me to breathe life into the community, you have to go out and be in the community. I’m a fiery guy on the sidelines, and I think if I’m pumped up about it every day of every week, then that will also help the people around here get excited. I have met a lot of people in this town, and they are all excited about football. Football is extremely important to the people of Choctaw County."

Choctaw County will open its 2019 season on Aug. 23 against Independence.

Follow @SESWalkerBailey on Twitter.

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