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Alonzo Stevens: A life in football

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Alonzo Stevens in his football playing days. Photo courtesy Alonzo Stevens.

Born May 6, 1952, to Eugene and Jessie Stevens. Alonzo Stevens was raised in a poor family along with his three siblings: Elenor, Jimmy and Eunice. Along with his parents and siblings, Steven’s grandmother, great grandmother and great great-grandmother lived in the house where he grew up in Vicksburg.

At the age of 9, Stevens began playing backyard football with close friends from his neighborhood.

When he was in ninth grade, Stevens was attending Lucy C. Jefferson School and playing football under coach Walter Strong and Lee Arthur Ferguson where they had a 6-0 record. Rosa A. Temple High School coach W.C. Gorden asked them if they wanted to scrimmage against the varsity team who were on their way to playing a championship game. The freshmen team, led by Stevens, shocked the varsity players by beating them the first day, but the second day, the varsity got their act together and beat the freshmen.

Throughout high school, Stevens had talented teammates such as Willie Moore, aka “Wonderful Willie,” who caught plenty of touchdowns from quarterback Robert Sims.

“Willie can catch anything you throw at him,”Stevens said.

Moore and Stevens played ball together throughout their years at Temple while both were getting play calls from Robert Sims.

“Some games, I never touched the ground or broke a sweat while Stevens was blocking for me,” Sims said.

Once, Temple played Greenwood in bad weather, and Sims only threw one pass. They still managed to score 39 points and walked off with a victory. Behind Sims was quarterback William Wooley who became the starter a year after Stevens and Sims graduated.

Wooley took Temple to their last undefeated season before integration. He threw for 36 touchdowns in 1970, and he prides himself on being a great teammate by playing behind Sims until his name was called for stardom at Temple.

Bobby Huell, Stevens’ lifelong friend and teammate, was another great player Stevens credits for his success. “Bruising Bobby” is what they called him because of the way he ran through tacklers on the field.

“I’d rather tackle Walter Payton than Bobby Huell,” Moore said.

Huell went on to star at Alcorn State University, then eventually played for the Pittsburg Steelers. Locally, he is mostly remembered for all the young athletes he coached while being the offensive coordinator at Vicksburg High School until his death in 2015.

Alonzo Stevens had plenty of people who could testify on Temple’s great success such as Marshal Sanders and Carl Jackson. Sanders and Jackson were both standout basketball players for Temple, helping their team to a 29-0 record.

“I remember the football team whooping up on everyone, and everybody cheered them on in the stands,” Sanders said.

“I couldn’t remember them ever losing a game,” said Jackson, who became a two-time all-American in college and was inducted into the St. Bonaventure hall of fame.

Sanders went on to star at Harvard University in basketball while Robert Sims played quarterback at Harvard for the football team.

Offensive tackle Joe Bingham said the Temple team sometimes never let their quarterback get hit, and they stood out everywhere they went as the best. Bingham went on to play at Jackson State University.

Stevens helped the Temple High football team win two big eight championships, and under legendary coach Houston Markham Jr., they only lost two games in those years.

By the time Stevens graduated from Temple in 1970, everyone in the state knew who they were, and they even had kids from St. Aloyisius come to see them play.

Stevens returned to Vicksburg  in 1975 after graduation from Alcorn and a couple of years playing for the Baltimore Colts, becoming a defensive coordinator at Vicksburg Junior High. He moved up to high school coaching under various head coaches, including James Knox who is the winningest coach in VHS history. Stevens also started the Vicksburg High power lifting program in 1978.

In 1991, Stevens left VHS for a coaching position with the Alcorn State football team and as head track and field coach. There, he coached players like Donald Driver and Steve McNair.

Stevens returned to Vicksburg eight years later and was named head coach at Vicksburg High in 2001 where he stayed until his retirement in 2011.

Alonzo Stevens has served on the Vicksburg-Warren County School District School Board since 2012.

The next year, Stevens ran for school board member, winning on the same night former President Barack Obama won re-election. He is now in his seventh year as a school board member.

“I want to help Vicksburg-Warren School District become the best district in the country, and I want our kids to have all the opportunities that everyone else has,” he said. Stevens recently won the John L. Hartman Award, which is given to an individual who puts in the most hours working in the school district, for the fifth year in a row.

Stevens has also served with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes since 1977.

Stevens credits his wife Linda for his success.

“She is my backbone, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her,” he said. The couple have two sons, Carlos and Stewart, and two daughters, Jasmine and Kimberly.

Notable players Stevens has coached:

  1. Steve McNair
  2. Donald Driver
  3. Shaun Archer
  4. Slyvester Stamps
  5. AJ Stamps
  6. Norman Price
  7. Malcolm Butler
  8. Andre Bennett
  9. Junior Nix
  10. Michael Ellis

Copyright © 2021 Vicksburg Daily News.

Vicksburg Daily News