RICHTON, MS (WDAM) - Before the start of this season, Stephen Rice set three goals for his Richton High School football squad. The first is one win away. "First having a winning season," said the Rebels' third-year head man, "They haven't had one in about 17 or 18 years. That was one of our first major goals."
They may do much more than that. The school record for wins in a season at Richton is eight, set by the 1993 squad. The 2012 rebels stand at 5-0, by far the best start in the school's history. "It's pretty special to be the first ones in a while to win, pretty much, any games," said Richton receiver Dylon Stringer, "Before last year, we'd win one game a year."
That's actually not far from the truth. Last season, the Rebels won all of three games, and only a total of ten dating back to the 2003 season. Now only five games into this season the Richton football team is over half way to a school record for wins in a season, and is one of seven remaining undefeated squads. And if Rice told you he expected his team's start, he'd be lying.
"Realistically, we kind of felt like we'd have a better season this year than we did last year," he said, "I don't know if any of us really believed we'd be here 5-0 right now." What a difference a year makes. Rice feels his team's winning mentality took shape far before the season started.
"I think the kids made a big commitment this summer to the off-season program," Rice said, "We came in four days a week at 6:30 in the morning. They spent about two hours a day lifting, running, and just getting in shape."
It's safe to say, the Rebels are in pretty good shape with an undefeated record. Assuming his Rebels win at winless Enterprise-Lincoln on Friday night, Rice will shift his team's focus to the last two goals on his list.
"The next one was to make the playoffs, and the third one was to play a playoff game," he said. Richton has only made the playoffs three times in their history, the last time in 2003. It might be unrealistic to think Richton can finish undefeated with games at Lumberton (3-1), at Bassfield (5-0), and against East Marion (3-1) to finish their season, but that doesn't mean it can't happen (see the Arizona Cardinals at the New England Patriots).
For now, the Rebels are just fine with one more win.
"Well, I don't want to lose any (games)," said Stringer, "but I guess realistically, first we got to make the playoffs, then see what happens."