News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days: Bay High Tigers
For stop number 10 on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days, Bay High has seen some tough times in recent years, but now, the Tigers are finally starting to turn the corner and they’re proving the doubters wrong in the process.
Defensive End Johan Smith said, “Right now, it’s kind of surreal because we just started school back and I walk in the school, and I’m like where are these older guys at? And they’re just not there, so it’s like alright, it’s my time.”
For the first time in a long time, the Bay High football program returns a senior class with some pretty big shoes to fill, still not too far removed from a 20-game losing streak, spanning from 2016 to 2018. Tight end/ defensive end Terron Bedford said, “Nobody really expected us to win. Everybody was doubting us, even our classmates, people at school.”
Running back Noah Cutter said, “In 2012, we talk about that team all the time, and that was something we always looked at and we wanted to do better than and just get past that and have that legacy, but then create our own.”
The Tigers are well on their way to being a team to remember after pumping the brakes on a post-season drought dating back to that 2012 season in the first year of the Jeremy Turcotte era. “We always talk about changing the culture. We’re tired of everybody just being lazy and lollygagging all the time.”
Head Coach Jeremy Turcotte said, “I am more proud of the change in attitude around here than any tangible achievement we’ve had. Am I happy we made the playoffs last year? Absolutely. Am I happy – the bigger accomplishment to me was, we won the last regular season football game for the first time in 23 years.”
After taking down Vancleave in the region 8 class 4A finale, the Tigers were undone by South Pike in the first round of the playoffs.
Overall, a mark of 4-4, Bay High’s second straight non-losing season to go along with a 2-2 district record.
The Tigers lost all four of their road games, but when it came time for Friday night under the lights, under the water tower, talk about a different animal. “It feels great to know that people actually know who we are, and that we’re not just oh, we’ve got Bay High this week. No, you’ve got to play us.”
“For years, when a program is so down – and I’ve seen it at several different schools – they expect something bad to happen. They’re worried about oh no, we have to play Poplarville. Oh no, we have to play Moss Point. Oh no, we have to play East Central. And I really try to light a fire under them and say it’s about time that people start saying, oh no, we’ve got to play the Bay. Quit worrying about who we have to play, they’ve got to play us.”
Opposing teams have to prepare for what Coach Turcotte has coined an equal opportunity offense led by senior running back Noah Cutter, one of 11 returning starters who put up more than a thousand all-purpose yards and 13 total touchdowns in 2020. “It was nice. It was fun. But it wasn’t enough. We don’t like to have enough. We’re not satisfied. We want to just keep pushing.”
Heading into 2021, the Tigers are talking a lot about the next step. Priority number one being a district championship for the nine-member senior class of 2022, one foot in front of the other.
“Everybody is trying to grind. We’re grinding in the weight room. We’re grinding on the field. Everybody has been taking the next step.”
“We’re just like Coach says, we’re moving on to the next step.”
“Next step means to not only just football, but in life. Just take the next step to grow as a person. Hit that last rep.”
“Nobody goes in that weight room and lifts tons and tons of weights because it’s the most fun thing to do. They go in there and they lift because they want to win. And these guys have bought into the process. And yeah, that’s cliche. And it’s Nick Saban. And it’s every other coach in America. But if you don’t put really good flour and really good sugar in a cake, don’t even worry about the cake is going to taste like. You’ve got to have the right ingredients.”
Bay High opens up its 2021 campaign at home against West Harrison on August 27th.