POPLARVILLE, MS (WLOX) - WLOX Coach of the Year, Jay Beech, is back on the practice field, preparing his Hornets for the 2017 season.
Last year he guided Poplarville to heights never reached before at the high school with their appearance in the title game, losing to the Lafayette Commodores 27 to 12 in Oxford
Coach Beech said, "Now we know we have the capability of getting back and we know we can win it, but that's a long time from now, that's a long road to get there."
Senior running back Austin Bolton is one of a number of key offensive players returning from the 4A South State championship team. He generated 1,945 yards of total offense with 24 touchdowns.
"This is our redemption year, "said Bolton. "So, you know I've got to go hard, keep my team focused and we're going to do what we do best."
Junior quarterback Antonio Barnes runs the Hornets Wing-T offense to perfection. He keeps teams honest thanks to his passing talents. He tossed 12 touchdowns as a sophomore.
His favorite target is back. Junior wing back and strong safety Tyler Holston says while the defense is young, the offense can carry the early load.
Holston said, "I think our offense will carry us throughout the year and our defense will grow as the year goes on. We're kind of young right now but halfway through the season we'll catch on to it."
Amari Harmon, a 238 pound senior defensive end, loves the challenge and the competition. "We still have a lot of talent, "said Harmon. "No matter what grade they're in, no matter who we've got. We're going to be a great defense no matter what."
Senior cornerback D-J Travis roams the secondary with confidence. He hauled-in five interceptions in 2016.
Travis said, "I feel like we can do just as good as we did last year. We've just got to stay focused."
Poplarville battles Jeff Davis County in a jamboree game on Friday and officially begin the new season August 18 at home, facing Picayune.