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A program honored: Water Valley’s Brad Embry wins 2019 MAC Football Coach of Year

Going into last season, Water Valley had total of five playoff game wins this decade, two of them coming in 2010.

In 2018 alone, they won five more playoff games, culminating in the 34-28 3A State Championship win over Seminary.

The miracle run concludes with the crowning of head coach Brad Embry as the MAC Coach of the Year in football. He’ll receive the award this weekend at a banquet in Jackson.

“It really is a great honor. But it’s an honor for our entire football program. They name the coach, but if we weren’t winning a bunch of games and didn’t have great players and assistant coaches, it wouldn’t be the case,” Embry said. “So it’s more of an honor for the whole football program.”

Simply put, Water Valley’s 2018 season was special. The program had been good since Embry took over in 2008. They won double-digit games in four straight seasons from 2010 to 2013, but they never had the payoff success that the 2018 team had.

The team lost the region in their final regular season game, getting stomped at home 52-19 to North Panola. Then things changed. The Blue Devils turned it on in the playoffs, winning five straight for the ring. In the process, they got their revenge over North Panola, beating them 42-28 in the semifinals.

“A lot of hard work over a long period of time really lead to last year’s success. It wasn’t just one game, one season. Obviously, we got hot in the playoffs and played really well. But a lot of hard work went into that,” Embry said. “We were good for a long time and we finally hit that great spot. It’s really rewarding for all of us involved.”

With the 2019 season approaching, this version of the Blue Devils will look a bit different. Water Valley returns their starting quarterback, but lost both their leading rusher, Kenterrious Rucker, and leading receiver, Quaterrius Tolbert, to graduation.

Last year’s success, going 14-2, is a great building block for a program that had won just 10 games over the prior two seasons combined. Now, they’re looking to learn from that run to carry themselves into this season.

“You want to build off of that and use it to springboard us into this year. But you also have to realize that last year was last year and this year is this year,” Embry said. “If we sit there and we just dwell on last year, we might not be ready for this year. But at the same time, we need to look at what made us successful and then rinse and repeat that.”

With this latest accolade, Embry doesn’t just win his first MAC Coach of the Year honor. He’s also the first Water Valley coach of any sport to win since Terry Allen won the football Coach of the Year in 1990-91.