LUCEDALE, Miss. (WLOX) - The Rebels are the last of South Mississippi’s prep football teams that needed a new leader on the sidelines. Luckily for them, they didn’t have to go too far to find one.
On Tuesday night, James Ray, the Rebels defensive coordinator the last four seasons, was approved to be the next head coach. Ray takes over for Matt Caldwell who stepped down after four years to be the athletic director for the school.
This isn’t Ray’s first rodeo as a head coach, as he was the head guy at Bruce High School up north for ten seasons before coming to Lucedale. Ray says there won’t be too many changes under his leadership, but will expect blood, sweat and tears from the players as George County looks to make a name for themselves in a competitive Region 3-6A.
“We talk about it all the time with our team. You can’t eat cake and ice cream and expect to compete in the league that we are. So it’s everyday you’ve got to come and bring it to the table every day," Ray told WLOX Wednesday. You can’t be a guy that doesn’t come to practice and you can’t be a guy that comes to practice just to get through practice. We’ve just got to get on a consistent level here. He’s left a great legacy here. This program’s so much better off than when we got here four years ago and he took over. I just don’t want to let him down, I don’t want to let this school down, our community or our players down. We’re going to work hard every day to do this thing the right way.”
The Rebels finished 2019 with a 7-5 record, ending the season in the playoffs falling to Gulfport 20-19 in the first round. George County lose a generational talent in McKinnley Jackson, but aren’t short of star power with swiss army knife and Ole Miss commit M.J. Daniels and sophomore running back Trent Howell returning next season.