MT. OLIVE, Miss. (WDAM) _ Less than a decade ago, Mt. Olive High School was celebrating the school’s third Class 1A football championship in a seven-year span that saw the Pirates post double-digit victories every season.
Tough times soon came to “Titletown.”
Over the next eight years, the Pirates would manage just 15 wins, an average of just less than two victories a season, including two winless campaigns.
But fourth-year Coach Dante Durr and his players believe better times lie ahead for the Pirates.
“It’s one of the best teams I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Durr said. “I return seven on offense, six on defense. We’re looking forward to surprising some people this year. We’re looking forward to Mt. Olive quit being the stepping stone of 1A football.
“We’re back. We want to be with the other Covington County schools, be on the map.”
The Pirates return seven seniors, all two-way starters, including John Dossett, who plays center and guard on offense and defensive tackle on defense.
“I really don’t want it to be my last year, but it is, so I want to do my best, and hopefully, we can make a run for it, and whatever happens, happens,” said Dossett, who was selected Mt. Olive’s “Player of the Pine Belt.”
“We’re expecting a championship.”
Mt. Olive, which managed just one win last season, will have to fight through an eight-game, Region 4-1A schedule to enter the race for a state title run.
“(Region) 4-1A, it’s going to be very tough with Lumberton there, and Richton’s dropping down," Durr said. "Leake County is moving in, Sebastopol, but I think we’ve got the starters returning that I think will be able to compete in that region this year.
“These seniors, they’ve been four-year starters for me. They’ve been with me throughout this journey, so I think they’re ready to get this program turned around also. This is a good group to get this program turned around, and it’s like we preach, ‘Hey, somebody’s going to have to, so why not me?"
The 5-foot-10, 230-pound Dossett will serve as a line captain on both sides of the football.
“”I have to get the line together, encourage them, make sure they are doing their job,” Dossett said. "You can’t have any selfishness because if you do, you’re going to screw the whole team up.
"Being an offensive lineman is about being a part of a team. It’s not about being about yourself. We don’t shine, but we do our part, and we get the job done.”
Durr said he will be counting on Dossett to do just that.
“He’s going to be a four-year starter,” Durr said. “I think he missed one day of workouts because of a church trip. He’s real dedicated and all the younger kids look up to him. We’re probably going to start two freshmen on the line, and he’d going to be a great role model to live up to.”
The Pirates will kick off the 2019 season at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22, by welcoming Loyd Star High School to Mt. Olive.