BAY SPRINGS, MS (WDAM) - Sylva-Bay Academy went 3-8 last season.
The Saints are 4-0 this year. Coach Terry Underwood has turned the program around in his first two seasons but he credits the players first and foremost.
"We worked harder over the summer,” said Sylva-Bay junior running back Tariq McCoy. “Practice hard, play hard.”
"Everybody's supporting us more and we're confident in ourselves and coaches are really pushing us hard,” said Sylva-Bay junior cornerback Cade Blackwell.
"These past years we ain't been that great,” said Sylva-Bay junior wide receiver River Thomas. “Had a lot of downfall but we’re looking to make the program better.”
“It's night and day,” Underwood said. “Our kids are expecting to win now. Positive things happening and success happening, you tend to develop more confidence."
The Saints are soaring with confidence headed into the Timber Bowl with Wayne Academy on Friday night. The two schools will battle at Wayne County High – first-year Jaguars coach Todd Mangum is excited to return to the school where he won a state championship in 2015.
"It's going to be good, I'll be on the same sidelines that I stood for several years before,” Mangum said. “Coaching’s coaching. Blocking, tackling and all hasn’t changed. The only thing that’s changed is my location but football’s still the same.”
Mangum and coach Underwood’s love for football has remained the same since their days of growing up in the Pine Belt. The two faced each other in high school when Mangum was a star quarterback at Mount Olive and Underwood played at Seminary.
The two coached together at East Central Community College. On Friday, they’ll be pitted against each other for the first time as head coaches.
“It’ll be tough because [Mangum]’s a close friend of mine,” Underwood said. “We probably talk to each other every week or two. Me and him have known each other our whole lives. He’d say the same thing, you’d like to beat him because you know him. At the same time, you don’t like playing close friends and good people like that. He’ll do a great job at Wayne, he’ll have them ready to play."