By Robert Wilson

Centreville Academy coach Bill Hurst – the winningest football coach in Mississippi history — began his 46th season Friday with his 411th career victory in a 52-34 victory over New Orleans Home School.

Meanwhile, former Jackson Prep coach Ricky Black – who is second to Hurst with 401 career victories – probably won’t be coaching this season after resigning from Prep this spring.

Hurst, 72, started at Centreville in 1975 and has coached there ever since. He said he feels good this season and is excited about his team.

“I feel mighty good. My health is pretty good,” said Hurst, who has won nine MAIS state titles, the first one in 1976 and the last one in 2014. “I’ve been blessed by a lot of good kids. We try to teach them about life and what it’s all about.” Hurst likes his team, which is led by a three-year starter, senior running back-wide receiver-defensive back Caleb Kinabrew and Parklane transfer Ben McGregor, a senior running back-wide receiver-defensive back. McGregor’s dad, Dusty, played on Hurst’s 1989 state championship team.

“I think we will have a pretty good team this season,” said Hurst, who has been joined on the coaching staff this season by former player, Brian Stutzman, who played for Hurst from 1987-90 and coached with Hurst from ’97-2014. Stutzman has been the head coach at Parklane Academy in McComb for the past six seasons. “Our offensive line is quicker and stronger, which will help us. We are hoping to have a good season.”

Hurst’s dad (Lea Fulton Hurst, who passed away at age 94 in 2012) was a pulpwood man and cattle farmer. Even when times were tough, Hurst’s dad made sure he fed his family (wife, Hazel, and children, Bill, brothers Cliff and Roger and his sisters Dorothy and Bonnie). Bill Hurst was taught by his dad that you worked hard and worked long to be successful. Hurst graduated from Clinton (La.) High School and played guard on their football team. But he said he wasn’t good enough to play college football. He went to Southwest Mississippi Community College, LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette and graduated from Southeastern Louisiana. After graduating college, he met his Pat on a blind date and they were married in 1971. Hurst got a chance to get a job at Centreville because the school board president, Dr. Bill Craft, knew Hurst’s dad and they hired him as a teacher and assistant coach. Hurst took over as head coach for Mike Mullens two years later.

Black, 73, 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.

Black resigned in February and said he isn’t retiring, just not coaching at Prep. He still says he will coach again.

“I still have a passion to coach,” Black said Sunday. “It looks like it may not be this year, but in November and December I might start looking. I feel fine. I miss being with the coaches and the players, but I’ve been enjoying myself.”

Black said he watched some of Greenville Christian’s 58-32 victory over MRA Friday night, but doesn’t know if he will watch any games, including Prep, in person or on Friday night. Black’s replacement, Tyler Turner, makes his debut Friday against Greenville Christian.

“Right now, my biggest games are my grandkids’ games, Grayson plays on the Prep junior high football team as an eighth grader, and Haze is a sophomore on Prep’s volleyball team.”

Black is going to Tupelo Thursday to accept the Mickey Linder Spirit Award at the Tupelo High Booster Club.

Since Black isn’t actively coaching this season, Lamar School coach Mac Barnes has moved into Black’s place as the second winningest active football coach in Mississippi. Barnes, 69, has 330 career victories and is starting his 41st season, the first 20 at Meridian High and the last 21 at Lamar. Lamar opens the season Friday night against Heritage Academy at home.