25 Teams in 25 Days: George County Rebels
Geographically speaking the 19th school on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days is further away from our station here in Gulfport than any other stop on tour. But, George County is worth the drive in 2018 where the Rebels are poised for what’s already turning out to be a bounce back season behind the lead of Mississippi’s top recruit for the class of 2020.
Head Coach Matt Caldwell said, “Last year, we kind of back stood a little bit from the first year. This year, our kids, we’ve got a good senior class, a lot of good leadership with those guys, and they’ve kind of created a culture here of doing the work and setting high expectations for themselves and so yeah, I think we’ve done some good things coming into this year.”
Coming off a two-win season in 2017, now two years removed from its last playoff appearance George County has a new Matt Caldwell inspired mantra for 2018. Defensive end McKinnley Jackson said, “He made a claim that we had to be all in, and we had to give all our effort. And that really stuck with us, especially with me. The all in part, just being all in, being accountable for your next man.”
Tight end/ long snapper Cade Caldwell said, “I found out about this team that we couldn’t find out about last year’s team is we are 100 percent all in to the game. No matter what he asks of us, no matter what any of the assistant coaches ask of us, we’re all in, we’re all together.”
All that being said, the Rebels had a curious response in their week one shutout loss to Gulfport who took advantage of 230 George County penalty yards, but the Rebs hit the reset button in their week two Battle of the Bell triumph over Greene County by taking delivery on those previous mistakes. “Yeah, I saw them take ownership. They took ownership of everything they did every day, and teams have a chance to be good when they take ownership of the actions of a team and these guys have done that and they’ve put in the work over the summer and the spring, and the start of this season has been okay. We’re looking forward to better things as the season goes on.”
That optimism starts with George County’s 23 man senior class and we haven’t even mentioned McKinnley Jackson. The junior defensive tackle is a five star recruit who truly walks the walk in Lucedale. “McKinnley is a tremendous worker. I mean yes, he’s extremely talented. He has God-given talent more than any other high school defensive lineman I’ve ever seen in 23 years of coaching. But what sets McKinnley apart for me is his work ethic on the field.”
“Right now, I want to be like a leadership program. Everybody wants to be a leader, and everybody wants to lead on their team. I want everybody to be a leader, but I want to lead them to the right way. Cause I feel like I can be accountable for everybody.”
For the second week in a row, the Rebels will do battle with a rival school coming in the form of 4A East Central on Friday. That game will kick off at 7 p.m. from Hurley.
Jackson says he’ll be allowed to start fielding phone calls from college recruiters starting September 1st.