BASSFIELD, MS (WDAM) - In April of 2017, newly-appointed athletic director Lance Mancuso was tasked with hiring coaches for the inaugural sports season at Jefferson Davis County High School.
The two coaches Mancuso chose to lead the JDC boys and girls basketball teams proved to be wise decisions. Boys coach Tony Woody and girls coach Marcus Luckett have led their respective teams to the quarterfinals of the MHSAA playoffs.
"I always tell kids, you always want to leave a legacy," said Luckett on the day he was introduced as the Lady Jaguars coach. "And what better than to start a legacy at a new school that's hungry and have a desire to be champions?"
"When they talk about who's the top [class] 3A program in the state, they're going to say well let's find out they're doing down at Jeff Davis County," Woody said.
Fast forward nearly a year after Luckett and Woody's introductory press conference, the two coaches are preparing for a trip to Jackson.
It's been a long journey that began with establishing an identity as a first-year program.
"Get them in the mindset of what it takes to be successful, having them believe in that aspect," Luckett said. "They gelled together pretty fast."
"My mentality was to come in and set a solid foundation and a culture that they would understand that hard work, respect and discipline would carry a long way – which in turn would help them in their life," Woody said.
"Coach [Woody] is one of the best coaches in Mississippi if you ask us," Jefferson Davis senior Dre'shun Barnes. "Teammates are great, we all fit in with each other."
"Heart," said Jefferson Davis senior Xavier Spruell. "We went through everything with this team. It's just unbelievable."
Luckett and Woody have years of coaching experience and have both come up short at the "big house."
Luckett led the Morton boys to a 30-1 season in 2017 but fell just short of a state championship. During his 19 seasons at Columbia High School, Woody led the Wildcats to a state title game but lost.
Their experience should help the Jaguars and Lady Jaguars as they look to make history in year one.
"We're all on the same page as far as winning it all," Luckett said. "I know what it takes to get there. It's still going to be new to them, regardless. We're going to call a timeout probably the first minute of the game just to settle them down and get them focused."
"These are the moments you think about when you're in high school – opportunity to play in the 'big house,'" Woody said. "A lot of good players have come through this state and not had the opportunity to play in the 'big house.' Seize the moment, do the best you can do and let everything fall in its place."