Players of the Pine Belt: Mount Olive's La'Travious McNair

Players of the Pine Belt: Mount Olive's La'Travious McNair

MOUNT OLIVE, MS (WDAM) - Entering the 2016 football season, Mount Olive carried the weight of a 16-game losing streak.

First-year Pirates coach Dante Durr quickly transformed the culture of the program, as Mount Olive won its season-opener en route to a 4-6 campaign.

Coach Durr wasn't the only catalyst, however. Quarterback and defensive back La'Travious McNair had a lot to do with Mount Olive's turnaround.

"It was tough," McNair said. "It was very tough. I'm not used to losing but we just figured out a way to win."

"[McNair] was the one who made us go," Durr said. "If he wasn't going, we weren't going. If he was going, the whole team was going. We were on a 16-game losing streak and they bought in to what we were trying to do. And won four last year, hoping to do bigger things this year."

Ultimately, the goal for the Pirates is to get back to the caliber of football that brought state titles to Mount Olive in 2009 and 2010.

Though, the town may never again see the talent that led the Pirates to their 1989 state championship. That year, it was the late-great Steve McNair leading Mount Olive. McNair would eventually win the NFL's Most Valuable Player award in 2003.

Though there's no relation between Steve and La'Travious, the senior still feels pressure to live up to a legendary last name.

"Just a big name to live up to," McNair said. "Just to be honest with you, it's just a big last name to live up to. There's a lot of things you have to do. A lot of pressure. A lot of pressure but I feel like I can handle it."

La'Travious has made a name for himself in his three years at Mount Olive, passing for over 1,000 yards and rushing for 983 in 2016.

"He's one of our leaders on the team on the offensive and defensive side," Durr said. "He had over 1,000 yards passing last year...He's our 'Mr. Do-It-All.'"

The Pirates return an experienced group this season, with eight starters back on defense and seven back on offense. La'Travious is excited for his senior season and the potential Mount Olive has shown.

"The way [the team] has been showing up at practice," McNair said. "They've been showing me that they really want it. They push me and I push them to get better every day."

"I think we're going to surprise some people this year and probably make a playoff run," Durr said.