Photo by Robert Smith

By Robert Wilson

​Four months after becoming the second high school football coach in Mississippi history to win 400 games, Jackson Prep coach Ricky Black has resigned.

​Black, the second winningest coach in Mississippi history who ranks 19th among active high school football coaches in the country, said in a statement that he is resigning from Prep, but the 71-year-old Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame member and former National High School Coach of the Year said he isn’t retiring. Black said he will complete the school year, but will not be renewing his contract for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Photo by Robert Smith

​“President Kennedy said that the best time to repair the roof is while the sun is shining. Without question, the sun shines intensely and favorably on the football program at Jackson Preparatory School, and its roof needs no repairs,” Black said in a statement released Friday. “And that’s why I have now decided that it is time for me to move on. I am not retiring; rather, I’m going to look for another roof to repair while the sun is still shining. 

“I have always believed that there is wisdom in “going out while you’re still on top,” and that’s what I aim to do here. I have no regrets, and if I had to it over again I wouldn’t change a thing – and there aren’t too many coaches who are able to say that, believe me. Football is my life’s work and my recreation; it’s in my blood and it’s in my soul. Coaching football isn’t for everyone, but it’s my dream job, and I have been living my dream since 1971. It just doesn’t get any better than that. And I intend to keep living my dream for as long as the Almighty allows me to do so.”

Black, 71, has a 401-79 career record in 40 seasons, including a 263-44 record, an 85.6 winning percentage, and 13 state championships in 24 seasons at Prep. Black won a Mississippi record seven consecutive state titles from 2012-2018. He was named the National High School Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in 2018 and was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2019. Black won No. 400 with a 23-0 victory over Parklane on Oct. 23. He won 49 games at Kosciusko High, 89 at Tupelo High and was an assistant coach at Mississippi State for six years before coming to Prep in 1997.

​Prep finished 7-3 this season and lost to Jackson Academy 28-21 in the final minute in the MAIS Class 6A semifinals at Prep. Prep had beaten JA 12 consecutive times and hadn’t lost since 2013 to the Raiders. JA rallied from a 21-7 deficit after three quarters. It was the first time since 2010 that Prep didn’t play for the state championship. Madison-Ridgeland Academy has won the last two state Class 6A state titles and has beaten Prep in its last three meetings. 

Photo by Robert Smith

 ​“Coach Black is a giant at Jackson Prep, and our student-athletes have immeasurably benefited from Coach Black’s influence – his demand for excellence from everyone around him, his commitment to the development of his players, and his support of our students during and after their time at Prep,” Prep head of school Lawrence Coco said in a statement released Friday. “Importantly, Coach Black’s wife, Linda, has been equally dedicated to Prep, evidenced by the fact that she has never missed a Prep football game – or for that matter, any football game Coach Black has coached!  

 ​“While we celebrate the accomplishments of Coach Black, we must also look to the future.  A task force for the search and hiring of a new head coach will be formed and begin work immediately.  Our goal is to have a new coach in place this spring.  Obviously, this will require the postponement of spring training, originally scheduled to start this week, so our new coach can lead these important practices.  In the interim, I am confident in our varsity football coaches’ ability to continue our off-season training, which is integral to the success of the players in spring training, during summer workouts, and, most importantly, for the fall football season.”  

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