"When the season was over last year we all sat down and had a meeting with the team and the first thing they said was, 'Coach, we're not happy at all,'" said Richton head coach Chuck Maxie. "'We're not real proud with the season we just got through having and we want to do whatever it takes to improve on that."
Thus, Richton went to work this summer, bulking up in the weight room and conditioning themselves in the Mississippi heat. As the Rebels hope to improve from last year's 1-10 campaign, junior wide receiver Za'Darius Mitchell, also known as Peanut, could be a major key to their success.
"It feels good, back in the pads," Mitchell said. "Everybody else doing great and helping my teammates out. Doing what we got to do to have a successful year."
"I told [Mitchell] one time there's players on the team that just have 'it,'" Maxie said. "And Peanut's got that 'it' factor. The kids look up to him and he doesn't even really realize it a lot of the time. He's not an ego guy. He wants to do what's best for the team."
Mitchell played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back for Richton last season. He's ready to do the same again for the Rebels in 2017, but it's at the wideout position that "Peanut" hopes to make it to the next level.
"I really like wide receiver best because I've always looked up to my cousin [Torris Magee] and them," Mitchell said. "[Magee] played at Southern Miss and he was a wide receiver. He could've gone to the NFL. I want to play [Division I football] and probably make it pro."
Mitchell's cousin, Magee, was a star receiver for Oak Grove and USM, leading the Golden Eagles with 632 receiving yards in 2007. Second-year Rebels coach Chuck Maxie believes Mitchell has what it takes to realize his dreams.
"He's got the speed, he's got good hands and he's got good football IQ," Maxie said. "And we're trying to build on all of those right now because Peanut's going to be an integral part of our offense and an integral part of our defense."
Mitchell and the Rebels continue to grind on the gridiron as they're ready to bring a new attitude to a new football season.
"Got to take it seriously, got to work, got to want it," Mitchell said.
"These guys are hungry and this town is hungry," Maxie said. "I preach that all the time. Guys you live in a great town, you're in a great school and these people are hungry for football to be successful. Let's give them what they want."