PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - In their 13-game win streak leading up to the 1A state championship game in 2015, the Resurrection Eagles outscored their opponents 400-40 and posted eight shutouts.
With a new season comes a change in player personnel for high school football teams, and Resurrection was no exception. The Eagles lost five defensive starters, something from which the team seems to have finally adjusted.
"The defense has gotten a lot better over the past couple of weeks," Resurrection head coach Scott Sisson said. "Hopefully they'll continue to get better. There are a lot of new faces over there."
Junior linebacker Becht Rowell was a significant piece to the success last year and is a leader on the team yet again. He's second among Eagles defensive players with 65 tackles.
"That [championship] loss motivated us," Rowell said. "It's motivated us all offseason, this whole year, every day. If we have a bad practice or bad play, someone says, 'Do you want that gold ball?' It's just the mentality that we have right now. We want to go back up there and win it this year."
Resurrection suffered its first loss of 2015 in the 1A title game after a 25-9 defeat to the Simmons Blue Devils, who are undefeated through seven games so far this season.
The Eagles defense isn't as dominant as it was a year ago, but the wins keep coming. Resurrection has six wins through seven games, with the only loss coming August 26 against a 4A program -- the Pass Christian Pirates -- by a score of 35-28.
Two of the wins have been by three points or less, including a 24-21 victory over Perry Central thanks to a game-winning field goal as time expired by Caden Perez, and a 21-20 overtime win against Florida-based Escambia County.
"We've been challenged more in the regular season," said senior running back Patrick Watts, who has rushed for 803 yards and four touchdowns. "[Last year] we blew everybody out. There was no challenge. We got to the state game and faced adversity. This year we've already faced adversity multiple times in the regular season already which I think will prepare us for the playoffs."
"It gets us ready for the real games, like state," said junior linebacker Cearly Parker, who leads Resurrection with 68 tackles. "We're getting prepared. We've worked hard all summer and we're just trying to make it."
Resurrection has had to deal with injuries all year long, but have also recently had players sent home early due to illness.
Norman Douglas suffered a broken leg in the 42-0 win over Mount Olive and is the Eagles' top kick returner, while Patrick Roth has a partial ligament tear in his ankle. Roth leads the Eagles with three interceptions and 303 receiving yards.
Resurrection will host Sacred Heart this Friday in Pascagoula at War Memorial Stadium.