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Alonzo Stevens: A life in football



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


Pastor Reginald Harris Celebrates 17 years at Bright Morning Star Church



Photo by Thomas Parker

Vicksburg Daily News was on hand to celebrate a special day with Pastor Reginald Harris and his family.

Sunday, the congregation at Bright Morning Star Church honored Pastor Harris for 17 years of leading the church.

Churchgoers decorated their vehicles and took the opportunity to join in the drive-by celebration and show their appreciation to the Pastor and his family.

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Those who keep us safe: Sam Winchester



Photo by David Day

For 30 years and counting, Samuel K. Winchester has been a public servant.

In 1990, prior to a career in law enforcement, Winchester enlisted in the United States Military.

“I’ve always been involved in that line of work,” he said. “I am a veteran. I was in the United States Army, so that work really centered around a career in law enforcement after that.”

After the army, he got his first start in law enforcement by working at Alcorn State University. After a brief stint with the college, he started at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department in 2000.

Winchester grew up in a tiny town in Jefferson County, northeast of Natchez, called Rodney, Miss.

His upbringing resulted in him seeing first hand what it means to be a public servant.

“The person I looked up to was my father,” Winchester said. “Ironically, we both mirrored each other’s occupations. He was in the military and also he worked at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department.”

Winchester saw that the Warren County Sheriff’s Department was hiring and he was hired in 2004.

With almost two decades with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Winchester wears many hats.

Winchester has worked his way up the ranks and in 2006 was named detective for the Criminal Investigation Division. He also is a hostage crisis negotiator for the department. Winchester is also called on to investigate county fires as a county fire investigator. Lastly, one of the most notable positions Winchester serves is as the primary driving instructor at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer Training Academy for the State of Mississippi located in Pearl.

With all these responsibilities, Winchester is a mild mannered man who enjoys being there for his community.

“My favorite part of serving on the sheriff’s department is that I get to help people,” Winchester said. “In today’s society, our job is centered around the public, so we always want the public to know we are available to them and it’s very crucial that we help everybody. If you can just help one person and touch one person’s life you can consider that a successful day.”

The people of Warren County are not the only people who recognize Winchester’s hard work. In 2017, he was recognized by Hon. Bennie G. Thompson in the House of Representatives by a Congressional Record for his service.

In the record, Thompson wrote, “I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing, Det. Sam Winchester for his hard work, dedication and a strong desire to serve his country and community.”

After all of this success in his career, Winchester was asked to define a community hero.

“When you serve the public you dont put alot of thought into it being an individual community hero because it has so many moving parts to it,” he said. “Its a team effort. It’s not an individual effort. I look at everyone who serves the public and in law enforcement as a hero. Everyone who wakes up and puts on the uniform and risk their life to save someone else’s life or touch someone else’s life, that’s a hero.”

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Mississippi native elected as Harvard student body president



(photo courtesy Noah Harris)

A Mississippi high school graduate has been elected as Harvard University’s student body president.

Noah Harris, a 2018 graduate of Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is the first African American to serve in the role at prestigious Harvard University in Massachusetts.

“I’m really grateful that the student body is entrusting me with such a historic and unprecedented moment,” Harris told WDAM. “To make the right moves and to really bring their voices to the forefront. I just never expected that I would be in a position to run for this.”

Harris is a junior and a political science major at Harvard. He served as treasurer on the finance committee in his first two years. His vice president and running mate is neuroscience major Jenny Gan. Both plan on making a difference at the university.

Harris and Gan will be sworn in Dec. 6.

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