After leading Lake Cormorant’s football team to its first-ever MHSAA 5A North Half finals appearance last December, head coach and athletic director Nick Nester has been named the winner of the DeSoto County Touchdown Club’s High School Coach of the Year award.
Nester was honored as part of the club’s first meeting of the year on Monday at the Holiday Inn Southaven Central.
The Gators put together a 10-5 overall record last season, 6-1 in MHSAA 5A-1 contests, and ousted Vicksburg and Clarksdale in the playoffs before falling to eventual state champion West Point 40-7 in the North Half finals.
Lake Cormorant’s 2016 team also produced a Power Five recruit in wide receiver Brandon Smith, who recently signed to play at Iowa of the Big Ten Conference.
Overall, Nester has compiled a 45-50 mark coaching the Gators. The 1998 graduate of Southaven High School played on a MACJC state championship team at Northwest Mississippi Community College under former coach Bobby Franklin and went from there to play at Charleston Southern before returning to coach in DeSoto County.
Nester was hired by principal Rhonda Guice in 2006, who noted Monday in her introduction that there have been 40 players who received football scholarships as part of his program over the 10 years he has been at Lake Cormorant.
The building process for last fall’s success began after the 2014 season, when Lake Cormorant failed to win a game and finished the season 0-12.
From there, the Gators built a 7-6 record in 2015 before last season’s successful finish.
“We played a lot of young kids at the time and they gained a lot of experience,” Nester said about the past struggles leading up to last season’s campaign. “We were able to really work hard and be strong throughout the years and it really came together this year because we had so many really good players that had played a lot of football games.”
Last year’s winner of the award was Greg Wallace of Northpoint Christian School, who won the award after taking the Trojans to the TSSAA Division II-A state finals, where they lost to St. George’s of Collierville, Tenn., finishing that season with a 13-1 record.
Wallace recently announced he would be leaving the Southaven school at the end of the school year to become athletic director and head football coach at Bayou Academy, a member of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) located in Cleveland, Miss.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.