25 Teams in 25 Days: Poplarville Hornets
An early season favorite to return to the 4A South State title game for the third straight season, Poplarville is every bit the contender once again in 2018.
That’s the expectation for Poplarville, where the Hornets come back reloaded with the biggest senior class we’ve seen yet on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days.
Head Coach Jay Beech said, “Well, we’re still trying to find ourselves as a team a little bit this year; our 2018 version of the Hornets. We can’t depend on what we did last year or the year before, we’ve got to find our way in 2018. So we’re just going to try to get better and better each game.”
The Hornets aren’t reinventing the wheel in 2018 and there’s really no reason to coming off last year’s mark of 13-1. Running back Amahd Bolton said,”Just out here grinding really. Just like we had all last year, win the day. You’ve just really got to get better every day. You can’t stay the same, like I said.”
That business model is turning Poplarville into one of the perennial powers in the 4A ranks, now just two years removed from its 2016 run to the state title game and a near miss last season with a 52-45 South State loss to East Central. “Oh, yeah. For sure. We want that get-back. We’re going to get it this year.”
Left guard Heath Smith said, “I, personally, don’t think about it that much but when I do it still hurts. And it feels like we should have played harder, didn’t give it all we’ve got the whole game.”
Poplarville won its first game since that late November defeat on Friday by way of a 50-14 triumph over Pearl River Central. That makes the Hornets the highest-scoring team on the Gulf Coast from week two, led by the biggest senior class of the Jay Beech era. “Well, 25 seniors, we can kind of expand on what we’ve been doing a little bit more this year. We can open the playbook a little bit more just because these seniors have been running the same offense for so long that we’ve been able to add to it offensively and defensively, because of our experience.”
Despite losing 16 seniors from last year’s roster, the 2019 class is fully stocked with enough depth to finish the job and enough courage to embrace the target. “I’ll go to war with these boys any day, really. I know all of them will work hard for me, and I’ll work hard for them.”
“Everybody here just wants to win, we’re going to do everything we can to win. So motivation from last year and just self-motivation, try to get better.”
“You’re under a lot of pressure to win here because of what the kids in the past have done, so these kids now, the kids and the coaching staff alike, just under a lot of pressure trying to meet everybody’s expectations. And we have high expectations for ourselves, too, but that being said, we’re trying to still have fun. The game of football should be fun, it shouldn’t be all about pressure and expectations, we’re just trying to have fun.”
The Hornets will conclude their three game road trip on Friday with a 7 p.m. kick-off against 3A Seminary.