The Hattiesburg Tigers may be moving down from 6A to 5A, but head coach Tony Vance believes expectations are up.
"I tell you what I'm pretty happy with my football team and where we are right now. Guys worked extremely hard in the offseason and we're so far ahead right now where we've been in the previous two years," Vance said. "I think that's a testament to our coaches, but first and foremost to our players and the work they've put in and the commitment they made."
One of those players is junior quarterback Julian Conner. He's entering his second year as the starter and said he relishes the opportunity to get the season going.
"I'm loving it, I'm loving it everyday. Day-by-day. (I) get to come out here and get better with my team everyday," Conner said.
His head coached liked Conner's attitude.
"That's huge man having a quarterback that understands your system and can correct mistakes on the field and fix some things on the field and be your coach on the field. That's a big advantage anytime you got your starting quarterback back."
A drop down in classification may seem like a blessing for some, but Vance believes it's still tough competition.
"It's going to be just as good. Maybe not as much, but it's going to be just as good. There are really good teams in 5A. From top to bottom maybe as tough as any division in the state."
Last year the Tigers saw their season come to an end in the first round of the 6A playoffs against Brandon. Vance said the objective this year is to make a deeper run.
"That's definitely the goal of this football team is to win our division and get into the playoffs and advance in the playoffs and hopefully play for a state championship."
Hattiesburg opens the season at Petal August 22.