The ninth school on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days is having generational success under the watch of third-year Head Coach John Feaster. Last season, his Stone Tomcats proved they were no fluke in the region 4 Class 5A sector, but they still have their work cut out for them in 2018 with Hattiesburg and Picayune standing in the way of a district championship.
For the Stone football program, it’s all about perspective. Middle linebacker/running back Trey Arrington said, “Stone, we hadn’t went to the playoffs two times in a row in like 20-something years, since 1990-something.”
1991 to be exact was the last time for a lot of things. It was the last time the Tomcats hosted a playoff game, not to mention the last time they won a playoff game. “As a coach, you don’t want to stay stagnant. But I hope the kids, I hope they’re not satisfied. I just hope they want to get better, so that’s key for us just to keep getting better.”
“I mean we always had the talent, we were just short on the belief, at believing what we’re doing. But when he came he taught us to believe in what we do and trust the process, and that’s what we did and it worked. Two years in a row, working on three.”
The benchmark is an overall record of 8-4 including those back-to-back post-season appearances to kick off the John Feaster era, but Stone is still looking up to reigning district champion Hattiesburg who sent the Tomcats packing in the second round of last year’s historic playoff run. “Man, it was just whenever we were in pre-game I just knew we were defeated. I could see it on our faces.”
“We’ve just got to get over the hump with saying oh, that’s Hattiesburg. They’re a bigger school than us and everything like that, I mean none of that matters. Of course, they have more talent than us. But at the same time, we put our pants on just like they do. So I hope we got a little closer this year,” said Coach Feaster.
The storybook ending already has 13 authors. Those being the seniors who have the chance to write that final chapter in a way that no Stone team has in more than two decades. “The Tomcats are one team, one team, one dream and we have one heart. And we all believe in each other, we’ve got each other’s backs and we’re a brotherhood.”
“They’ve got a chance to leave here with a winning record, on a high note and leave a legacy for these other kids to follow.”
Stone gets the ball rolling on its regular season slate on August 24th at Harrison Central. In the meantime, the Tomcats will be at North Forrest tomorrow for a pre-season jamboree.