POPLARVILLE, Miss. (WLOX) - “You know when you have your cup of coffee, you know it’s going to be a good day. 24/7. He brings that excitement, he brings that spark. And we needed that," said sophomore Ricco Moore of his new head coach, Seth Smith.
That’s what it’s like to play for Smith, who took the reigns back in November, and wasted no time in rejuvenating the Pearl River program on day one.
“He walked in the door screaming, ‘yeah!’ That’s just him,” Moore, a St. Martin alum, said.
“I love this dude, because I have a lot of energy too,” freshman tight end and Gulfport alum Jytireus Smith said.
That energy helped the Wildcats push through an unprecedented summer - one that provided no promises, and little clarity on what the future might hold. But going through it helped them become closer, as a team.
“The offseason we had wasn’t a normal offseason," sophomore defensive end and Ocean Springs alum Jaylen Glaude said. "It was up and down, we were home for a couple months. It was weird, it was tough, but we all came together. We’re good to go.”
“Throughout my career, I’ve been extremely blessed to work with great coaches and great kids. And this is no different," coach Smith said. "These are some of the most enjoyable young men I’ve ever worked around. They do a great job of doing what they asked, they come every day with a great attitude, and hopefully that will be reflective when we play Thursday.”
The season might be shorter than usual, but it opens with a bang - as the Wildcats will face the Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs. Their archrivals, but also the national champs.
“I hate to be boring, but we’re going to treat it like another game," coach Smith said. "We’re playing a tremendous team, we’re excited about the opportunity, we just have to go out and play like it’s another game, because it really is the next game.”
But after going through the past few months, being able to go out and play a regular season game brings out that energy.
“We’re so hyped it’s gotten to the point where we have to calm down a little bit," Jytireus said. "I could jump through the screen right now. I could jump through the screen right now. I’m just ready to hit.”
The storied rivalry between Pearl River and Gulf Coast continues Thursday, October 1st in Poplarville for the 2020 season opener at 7 p.m. The game is sold out, however, fans will still be able to enjoy the action via livestream at prccmedia.com .