HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The words from Anthony Dillon were fitting for his North Forrest squad. During a practice drill, the head coach reminded one of his players, " Don't give up."
After an 0-6 start to the season, the Eagles have won four games in a row, leading to a district title.
"I'm very proud of these guys," Dillon said. "It was very tough starting out the season 0-6. It's easy to just give up then but we kept preaching to the guys, 'hey listen, these are not the games that makes us get into the playoffs. The district games are the more important games.'"
This persistence has paid off in the form of a home playoff game Friday against Loyd Star to open the Class 2A playoffs. The Eagles won two games in 2015 adding even more to this turnaround story, one in which senior Christian Williamson cherishes.
"Coming from a school, we've been losing most of the years," Williamson said. "You ain't expecting much. Coming into your last season going 0-6 and turn it around and go 4-0, first seed, it's really just a blessing. I thank God for it."
Junior Daylyn Croom also helped to guide the Eagles from his quarterback spot. He said the season all came down to taking heed to Dillon's words.
"We stuck together," Croom said. "Patience. Coach tell us be patient. It's going to come. We just worked. Worked hard."
A loss to Heidelberg in September was the last time this squad was on the wrong side of the win column. The mixture of perseverance, patience and play making ignited the Eagles' run.
"It wasn't that we were just losing due to talent," William said. "We were short, small size playing bigger schools. They would just have more guys than us. We kept falling short by a couple points. But coach just taught us to keep the faith. Trust the process and believe in each other. That's what we did and finished strong."
Of course with Dillon being a coach, there was one particular change he saw.
"I'd say the biggest thing was simply execution," Dillon said. "Week in and week out we kept going back to the drawing board, studying film real hard, looking at our miscues and just telling the guys, 'hey if we can fix this we're going to be OK guys.'"
Knowing well where they have come from, Dillon is making sure his guys do not take anything for granted come Friday night.
"Stay focused and stay hungry," Dillon said. "Anything can happen guys. We've got to prepare just like we're fitting to play for a state championship game. In order to keep playing you've got to win. Like I told them it's a lot of people at home this week already. So if we want to keep this season alive we've got to execute and give it our all."