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Poplarville football excited for another shot at state title

Last season ended with Poplarville’s varsity football team coming agonizingly close to a state championship, losing the game by only five points.

That defeat may have hurt, but it has the squad hungry for another attempt, and Head Coach Jay Beech said that his team will be ready for anything.

“Hopefully this year we prepare ourselves and get back,” Beech said.

“All you can ask for is a chance and that’s what we got.”

This year the team will be returning a decent number of seniors, but it has lost some key contributors, including starting quarterback Antonio Barnes.

Senior Blaise Breerwood will replace the four-year starter, and Beech said his senior class has done a good job of working hard during offseason.

“These guys are preparing themselves, they’re not just showing up,” Beech said.

“They’re prepared on the field and in the weight room.”

Beech said because of that next man up mentality his players should be able to pick up where the graduating class left off.

The new set of starters isn’t necessarily inexperienced, but Beech said it’s important that the guys trust each other and progress as the season goes on.

“It’s a matter of getting out there and doing your job with good effort,” Beech said. “I think we’ll get better every game.”

The offensive scheme the team employs means that skilled position players are often tasked with blocking for each other.

Beech attributes that selflessness to each player’s desire to win.

Whatever it takes to be victorious at the end of the day is what the players will do.

“Everybody blocks and if you block for your teammate the next play they’ll block for you,” Beech said.

“There’s a losing way and a winning way and it’s a choice you make every play.”

In football, like other team sports, there has to be an inherent trust between teammates that everyone will do what they’re supposed to.

The teamwork required in football means that each athlete has a specific role, and when each person does their job correctly everyone benefits.

“The best part of football is getting in a locker room after a win and celebrating with your team, but there are steps you have to take to get there,” Beech said.

“Some of those are when you’re getting the ball and get to shine and other times you have to block hard so that your teammate can shine.”

The give and take, and back and forth between teammates has Beech setting next season’s goals pretty high.

With a defense returning most of its starters, and an offensive group capable of big plays, the team might just accomplish the ultimate goal.

“We still feel like we have what it takes to win a state championship and that’s our goal,” Beech said.

“Whatever it takes to win district and be the number one seed going into playoffs.”