POPLARVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) _ As far as Seth Smith was concerned, he and his family’s future would be centered in Hurley, Miss., where he had spent the past seven years as leading the football program at East Central High School.
And yet, the pull of the past proved to be too strong, and Thursday afternoon, Smith stood in front of family, friends and fans of Pearl River Community College football and was introduced as the program’s new football coach.
“I have four boys,” Smith said. “My time at East Central was amazing, I always thought I would coach my kids in high school.
“I just told my wife (Devin) last year _ we had some other opportunities _ we’re not doing that. We’re going to stay here and be here at least another 10 more years in Hurley because it’s a phenomenal place, as good as any place there is on Earth.”
But he could not turn down the opportunity to head up the team he first followed as a boy growing up just 15 minutes away in the Sones Chapel community of Millard, Miss.
“This is home,” said Smith, who later played at Dobie Holden Stadium after a standout career at Pearl River Central High School.
“It all started here. For me personally, there was a lot of growth here, from learning how to go from a young boy to a learning how to become a young man. So, not from a football standpoint but from a personal standpoint, this is a special place to me.”
Smith, 37, succeeds Ted Egger, who posted a 10-17-1 record in three years at the PRCC helm.
Smith spent the previous seven seasons rebuilding East Central into a Gulf Coast powerhouse.
Taking over in 2013, Smith guided the Hornets a season later to their first playoff appearance in a dozen years. The next two years, East Central took additional postseason steps, winning a first-round Class 4A game in 2015 before reaching the South State semifinals the following year with consecutive postseason wins.
In 2017, Smith guided the Hornets to a South State title and a spot in the Class 4A championship game. In 2018, East Central won three postseason games before falling in the Class 4A South State title game.
This fall, the Hornets moved up to Class 5A and still managed to squeeze into the playoffs.
“It’s that kind of stuff that drives me,” said Smith, who posted a 53-34 mark at East Central, including a 25-2 mark in 2017-2018.
“When you look and say, ‘You can’t,’ or ‘What are you doing?’ in my mind, I’m thinking, humbly, ‘We’re fixin’ to show you what we’re doing.’
“The good Lord says all thing are possible, not some, so it can be done. It just takes a tremendous amount of work. The amount of belief it takes, you just can’t put into word what that takes. I’ve been blessed to coach some awesome kids.”
And those are the kind of players Smith said he wants to sign to PRCC.
“It will be the difference in us living here three years of us living 10 years, or longer,” Smith said. “That’s how they did it in the past. Kids like me in the past, this is all you knew. This is where you went. That’s how you did it in the past.
“That’s been lost a little bit. I have to do a great job helping surround this staff and this program with people who understand the value in that. That honestly will be difference in us winning and losing. We have to have kids from Poplarville, from Picayune, from Hancock, from Bay St. Louis, from PRC, from Lumberton, Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, Petal. We have to fill (the roster) with that and then, hopefully, be blessed enough to bring some other great players here.”
Smith started his coaching career at Picayune High School, staying with the Maroon Tide from 2004-08, coaching running backs and defensive backs before assuming duties as defensive coordinator.
Smith moved on to his high school alma mater, Pearl River Central, where he spent four seasons as defensive coordinator before moving onto East Central.
Smith and his wife have four sons, Tucker, Tyke, Titan and Trac.