The next stop on News 25’s ’25 Teams in 25 Days’ is a bit of a transformation Tuesday under the leadership of first-year Head Coach Eric Collins. After six straight losing seasons, the Bay High football program is finally starting to believe again.
The Tigers check in as the 12th team on this year’s tour.
Head Coach Eric Collins said, “Football is football everywhere you go, honestly. The kids are hungry here. But man, you know what, I love Bay St. Louis. I’m so excited to be here.”
Coming off a disappointing 1-9 season in 2018 and just three wins combined over the past three seasons, the feeling at Bay High appears to be mutual. Offensive/ defensive tackle Darius Alexander said, “The first day he had came when we heard we were getting a new coach, Coach Collins. We came and he came and talked to us in this auditorium. And we sat down and listened to him, and as he was talking I just thought man, we’ve got a good coach coming. He sounded disciplined and all that. And then as we kept going through the workouts, the first week of workouts, I could barely walk. And I was like oh yes, we’ve got a good coach.”
“We started in January with the off-season weightlifting program, and we put a lot of money in that bank. And hopefully that’ll pay off dividends.”
His track record says that check won’t bounce. Prior to his three-year run at D’Iberville, Coach Collins turned around an 0-11 Pearl River Central program, twice leading the Blue Devils to 11-win seasons and a pair of 5A South State title games. It’s the same idea with the 4A Tigers. “For a big part of my life, I chased state championships. I wanted to go to a place that had great athletes and gave me a chance to win a state championship. But it seems every time I chase that, God put me in a position where I’ve had that opportunity to take over struggling programs. It just seems like that’s God’s niche for me, that’s what God has for me.”
The thing about resurrecting a program that has one win in its last 25 games is old habits die hard. “Over the past, we would just do anything we wanted. And like now, he’s bringing in a good team now and it’s making us way better.”
“I can’t tell you that there haven’t been some growing pains, there is. But so far we’re on track. We have a freshman program. The kids showed up during the summer. And now it’s just a matter of trying to build on the successes that we had.”
Part of Bay High’s fresh start is a fresh look in the form of new jerseys with matching gloves and cleats heading into the 2019 season. The other part is a total culture change predicated on two things. Tight end/ defensive tackle Jordan Calomese said, “Belief and faith. Because we’re trying to change the belief system around here but people don’t believe we can win, but we know we can win. And we believe that. So that’s what Coach Collins instills in us. Have faith and believe. And go out there and put in the work to make it happen.”
Now, Coach Collins officially accepted the head coaching position in December before hitting the ground running in January. The Tigers will kick off 2019 at West Harrison on August 23rd.