RICHTON, MS (WDAM) - "When I was younger, my cousin came in and was like, 'Oh, he has a peanut head.' And they just said, 'Alright we're gonna call him peanut.'"
To his teammates at Richton, senior wide receiver Za'Darius Mitchell is better known as "Captain."
"He's a character," said first-year Richton head coach Stephen Rice. "He's always real upbeat. The kind of guy in the weight room making everybody laugh when they're lifting, trying to pump everybody up. You know, at the same time, he's a great leader. Just the other day at practice, our second group was doing some stuff and he kind of told them to stop and corrected some guys and made them run the play again. So, he's taking on that leadership role as a senior and really looking forward to a good senior year from him."
Not only is Mitchell a leader, Rice can also attest to his abilities on the field.
"He's real shifty player," Rice said. "He's the kind of kid that can avoid contact when he needs to, but at the same time doesn't have a problem with it. He's the type of kid that I believe any time he touches the ball, he can score. Then defensively, if it's in the air, he'll the have the opportunity to go get it and make something special happen on defense. A real explosive athlete that we think can change games for us. So, we've put him out wide and defensively he's a real ball hawk and kind of a striker defensively, so he'll be playing safety for us this year."
Despite being 1-10 in 2016 and 2-9 in 2017, Rice says they can only go up from here and feels that a big senior class is the trick to turning it around.
"We've got 23 seniors this year, so we're really excited about the experience we've got," Rice said. "We've got some explosive players. We've got some big strong kids that can play both sides of the line for us, so we feel like this is the year for us to make the turn and have some success this year."
Mitchell and his teammates feel as if football is much more than a game.
"You never know what someone's going through," Mitchell said. "They don't come here just to work out and have fun. Some people don't have a family, but the football team is their family. We're all brothers."
And "Peanut" has one goal on his mind.
"We gotta beat Perry Central," Mitchell said. "Everybody knows we gotta beat Perry Central."