Fortenberry takes Dexter to state

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, April 3, 2011

DEXTER – Coach Steven Fortenberry and his Dexter Bulldogsaccomplished an historic season by making their first trip back tothe Mississippi Coliseum in 9 years. They won the state title in2001.

The Bulldogs finished their season with a 23-7 record. Theycaptured the Region 8-1A crown and were South State 1A runners-upon their amazing march to the State Tournament in Jackson.

His team was the runner-up to Durant in the South Mississippi andState tournaments. The Bulldogs upset West Lincoln 77-71 in theSouth semifinals, handing the Bears their first loss in 29games.

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For his efforts, Fortenberry has been selected The DAILY LEADER’sAll-Area Boys Basketball Coach of the Year for the 2010-11campaign.

Fortenberry and his Dexter Bulldogs have been through some toughtimes since their last appearance in the Coliseum in 2001.

In 2005, Dexter lost their gym to Hurricane Katrina. For four yearsthe Bulldogs had to play all their games on the road. The only waythey could conduct practice was on an outside concrete basketballcourt, which was donated by some special people. The players had topersevere through the Mississippi weather to make themselvesbetter.

In 2008, Dexter finally received enough funding to build a new gymfor their coach and players. The new gym was complete andoperational in 2009. The old gym remains were completely torn downand removed. The only signs of it left are the concrete slab, whichis being used as the batting cage area for baseball.

Fortenberry commented on the school’s administrative support, “Thecommunity and Randy Sumrall work hard together to help make thisplace better and they will do a lot of extra things to help me outbefore, during and after each game to make it easier on me.”

What does Fortenberry like best about coaching at Dexter? Heanswered, “The small school atmosphere is great. I have been herelong enough now that I have coached some of these kids’ parents. Itmakes it a lot easier for me to discipline the players. The kidslove to play and will work hard to improve. They take extreme pridein each sport and I do too.”

Fortenberry stated, “We have always been a hustling andopportunistic team. We never try to outsmart any coach or team. Wejust come in and play hard.”

Fortenberry is in his 18th year at the helm. Only two starters aregraduating: Tyler Hart and Chris Cooley.

Three starters will return: Devonte Alford, Marcus Holmes and RonHarvey.

“We have a good bunch of kids coming back,” said Fortenberry. “Thefuture looks bright for the upcoming season.”

Fortenberry’s assistant coach is Zac Ratcliff, a former Dexterplayer, who played point guard on the 1998 team that madetheir-first ever debut at the Coliseum .

Fortenberry is a 1986 Walthall Academy graduate. He attended andgraduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of SouthernMississippi in 1993.

He teaches history, social studies, government, economics and Dexter.

Fortenberry is happily married to his wife, Wendy, for 22 years.They are the parents of one boy: Mitch, who is 13. Fortenberry’shobbies are basically anything dealing with Dexter sports andteaching Sunday school.