• Jared Redding

Rowdy's Five: Most Dominant Head Coaches of the Decade (2008-2018)

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

Bassfield head coach Lance Mancuso walks on the field after winning the MHSAA Class 2A State Championship on Dec. 1, 2012. (Photo Courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA)

Billy Graham said it best: "A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.”

In Mississippi, it's no exception. Coaches are greatly depended upon by parents and fans alike to help their sons be the very best they can be both on and off the field. At the same time, expectations are still high almost everywhere to win, and win often. For a few coaches in Mississippi, they have done just that in the past decade, and they have the hardware to prove it.

In this installment of Rowdy’s Five, I’ll recognize five head coaches in this state who have led their teams to dominate their profession on the field and have brought pride to their respective community while doing so. Here are the only ground rules:

They are all based upon their accomplishments in the past 10 years only, nothing past 2008, and it all had to happen while coaching within this state at the time.

NOTE: These are ranked in no particular order.

Chris Chambless (West Point)

When this guy took over as head coach, he immediately put West Point back to where it was in the 1980s when they won four state championships. He also brought with him the same philosophy of those teams, as well. He demanded that his players out-work, out-execute and out-run everyone else.

Fast forward to 2018, and look at them now.

Over the past 10 years, the Green Wave has rolled over Class 5A with five state championships coming in 2009, 2010 and each of the last three seasons. They even became the first team to win them in Jackson, Starkville, Oxford and Hattiesburg for bonus points. Their run game is another big part of all that success.

One can’t simply chase that offense for a full 48 minutes. They are explosive, fast, and down right athletic. Despite all the riches they’ve had at their disposal, one man has put all the pieces together to form the dynasty we know today as the West Point Green Wave. With the way this team is looking heading into 2019, they very well might tie South Panola for the most MHSAA State Titles with 11.

Lance Pogue (South Panola)

This guy won Mississippi’s first and only National Championship. Case closed.

Even if they didn’t win the natty back in 2010, it still wouldn’t have tainted their dominance that continued on through 2014.

Pogue arrived in Batesville in 2007, taking perhaps the toughest job in the entire state of Mississippi. He inherited a program that was then riding a 60-game winning streak left by legendary head coach Ricky Woods. Most would not have wanted that job simply because of all the pressure that came with it, but Pogue was not phased. He wanted to be the guy who followed the guy. His game plan: if it ain't broke, don’t fix it.

He didn’t fix anything.

Pogue went on to continue the tradition and keep winning, despite having the nation’s longest winning streak snapped in 2008. Over the past 10 years, the Tigers have won state championships in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014. Over that span, they went a mind-boggling 61-2 in region play and, as mentioned earlier, won the National Championship in 2010.

Pogue stepped down after the 2016 season and is currently paired with former championship-counterpart Larry Weems as defensive coordinator at Jackson Academy. However, there is no denying the job he did in Batesville. He was the catalyst of the standard that other teams to this day are trying to live up to.

Lance Mancuso (Bassfield, Jefferson Davis County)

There are local legends, and then there is Lance Mancuso. Perhaps no one in the Jefferson Davis County community is more loved and respected.

Mancuso arrived at Bassfield in 2008 after previous stops at Poplarville, Seminary and Richton. It didn’t take long for him to establish a 2A powerhouse as he immediately reversed the Yellowjackets' fortunes. In year two of his reign, the Yellowjackets won their fourth state championship in school history, their first since 1986. Then after falling just short the next two seasons, he would proceed to win four in a row from 2012 to 2015. Their dynasty made them not only the best small school program in the state, but some recognized them as the best small school program in the entire nation.

In early 2017, he was preparing his team for a fifth title in six years when the big news came. His school would be closed and would be forced to merge with their neighbors at Prentiss to form a new school called Jefferson Davis County. He, as expected, was to be the new football program’s head coach. What was next? Oh…he just kept winning, that's all.

Mancuso and the JDC Jaguars beat their opponents into submission and ran themselves into a state championship game in their inaugural season. They defeated Yazoo County 36-7 and added another ring to Mancuso’s fingers, his seventh overall.

In each of the last 10 years, Mancuso has never won less than 10 games. That, along with all those championships, is more than enough evidence to consider him one of the most dominant head coaches over the last 10 years. He built, not one, but two juggernauts during that time span. JDC is once again a contender, and they will likely continue to be contenders until Mancuso leaves or decides to hangs up the whistle.

Ricky Black (Jackson Prep)

Ah yes, one of the greatest coaches in the history of Mississippi high school football is on this list. Even after 39 years, he’s still winning at the high school level, including the last 10 years with Jackson Prep.

In 2008, he won his 18th state championship with the Patriots. While they were still dominant the next three years, he couldn’t get past rival Jackson Academy. Ever since then, its been nothing but championships. No, literally.

From 2012-2018, the Patriots have won six state titles in the MAIS. Even with roughly two complete personnel changes during that time, they’re still winning, mainly because they have this man pacing the sidelines. The way he prepares his team week after week also helps.

His teams are always very well conditioned and have been well educated with the X’s and O’s. While there may have been a true star player here and there, they’ve always won as a full unit, as demonstrated by his teams over the last 21 years as a whole.

Tyrone Shorter (Noxubee County)

It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to legendary head coach M.C. Miller after a 24 year tenure in Macon. However, even he knew that as long as his former assistant Tyrone Shorter was there, Noxubee County would be in good hands.

He was right; Shorter finished what Miller built.

In Shorter’s nine-year reign at Noxubee County, he made the Tigers a household name in Class 4A football. He made the playoffs every year, won seven division titles and four gold balls. The best part, he never lost in any of his state title game appearances. His 2012 squad was among one of the most dominant teams during the last 10 years, where they joined Lafayette as the only teams to finish 16-0 at the time.

Shorter stepped down after the 2018 season to once again relieve his legendary mentor as the head coach of the Louisville Wildcats. Shorter will once again be sharing the same sideline with him as Miller assumes the role of team chaplain.

Honorable Mentions:

M.C. Miller (Louisville)

Mac Barnes (Lamar)

Anthony Hart (Lafayette, Madison Central)

David Sykes (Jackson Academy)

Phillip Wasson (Washington)

Follow Jared on Twitter at @RowdySES.

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