POPLARVILLE, Miss. (WLOX) - While they may have lost time on the practice field this summer, this Poplarville team certainly did not lose any passion.
“These kids love football. With all that’s going on, it could be easy to lose focus and not want to show up to workouts,” head coach Jay Beech said. “In the back of our mind, not even knowing if we’re going to be playing, this has been one of our best summers as far as attendance and one of our best first couple days of practice. We’re all in, we’re ready to go. We’re excited and ready to play football.”
The Hornets exploded for almost 5,000 rushing yards last season, and return every single starting offensive lineman from their 2019 state runner-up squad. A complete 180 from 12 months ago.
“At this point last year, we had zero, maybe one returning starter, so we’re ahead of the game as far as offensive line goes,” Beech told WLOX. “In the Wing-T offense, it starts with that offensive line, so we’re feeling good about what we have on offense.”
Not only is the front line back, but so is 1,000-yard-rusher, senior Greg Swann. A recipe for success for a team that has seen a lot of it over the last four years.
“Greg is really important. He’s going to be what makes us go on offense,” Beech said. “He’s very talented, tough, fast, he has experience, and he gained over 1,000 yards last year. We’re going to rely on him a lot, for sure.”
“It’s going to be explosive. We have a really good set of backs, a really good offensive line, we’re going to be quick and explosive,” said senior offensive guard Tyler Knight. “We’re going to get touchdowns.”
After back-to-back south state titles, the Hornets aren’t thinking too far ahead.
“We’re just going to take it one day at a time, and not put any extra pressure on ourselves,” Beech said. “The only pressure we’re going to put on ourselves is today, and what we can do today.”
However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t hungry for three in a row.
“We knew what it took last year to win. We made sure everybody showed up here to work every day and made sure everybody was hungry and wants it,” said senior offensive tackle Seth Ladner.
“We knew what it took last year, and we know what it’s going to take this year to get back to the level we were last year.”
Coach Beech said after their loss to Corinth in the Class 4A title game, ”We just want to win one! We’re tired of just getting here, we want to win one!”
Seeing as how 2020 has been a year full of surprises, maybe the Hornets can take advantage of this unique season and claim their first state championship.
Poplarville start the season on the road at Biloxi on September 4 at 7 p.m.