Photos by Robert Smith
Story by Robert Wilson

Jackson Prep coach Ricky Black became the second high school football coach in Mississippi history to win 400 games with a 23-0 victory over Parklane Friday night at Prep in Flowood.

Black now has a 400-78 record in 40 seasons and trails only Centreville Academy’s Bill Hurst, who has a 409-126 record in his 43rd season, in Mississippi.

Black ranks 19th among active high school football coaches in the country in victories, according to MaxPreps, who publishes a Top 50 active coaches list going into each season. Historian Steven Floyd from Corpus Christi, Texas, puts together the list each year. Black was tied with Dudley Hilton of Pineville, Ky., Bell County High going into the season at 393, but Black has won seven games and Hilton has won three so far this season. Black also ranked No. 38 in all-time victories entering this season.

The late John McKissick of Summerville, S.C., is the all-time winningest coach in the country with 620 wins. John T. Curtis of John Curtis Christian in New Orleans is the leader among active coaches in the country with 594 wins going into Friday. Curtis is in his 52nd season.

Black won 49 at Kosciusko High, 89 at Tupelo High and the last 262 at Prep. Black has won 13 state championships, all at Prep.

Black grew up in Ackerman with his father, Leonard, his mom, Beatrice, his older twin brothers, Jerry and Gary, and his younger sister, Regena. Leonard was in the construction business and Jerry and Gary worked in it once they finished school. Leonard passed away in 2002 and Beatrice in 2004. Black played quarterback at Ackerman High and at Holmes Community College. Black met his wife Linda at Holmes CC in 1968 and they were married in 1969. She has never missed one of Black’s games. Black graduated from Mississippi State in 1971 and went back home and got a job as head track coach and assistant football coach at his alma mater, Ackerman. Ackerman head coach Art Nester took the job at Kosciusko and Black went with him. Three years later, Nester left Kosciusko for rival Louisville and Black took over as head coach. Black went 9-2 in his first season in 1975.

Other than a six-year stint as an assistant under Jackie Sherrill at Mississippi State from 1991-96, he has been on the high school sidelines.

Black had an amazing 89.1 winning percentage in his first job at Kosciusko, then won 74 percent of his games at Tupelo and had a Class 5A state runner up finish in 1990 to Barnes and Meridian. And now Black has won 13 state titles at Prep, winning a Mississippi record seven consecutive from 2012-2018. Black 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, 71, isn’t setting a date on retirement, saying as long as he is healthy he will be on the sidelines. Other than a case of West Nile virus in 2012, Black hasn’t had any serious health problems. Black, who lives in Northeast Jackson and takes a 20-minute trip to Flowood every day, has kept the same schedule since he came to Prep in 1997. Black gets to school around 7:30 a.m. every weekday and oversees the football program in addition to teaching driver’s education.

Black has one daughter, Paige, and two grandchildren, Grayson and Haze.