HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) _ In 2019, Sacred Heart High School received more than its share of lumps and bumps as a physically overmatched, inexperienced squad went winless.
With just 21 players on their 2020 roster, the Class 1A Crusaders will sport a thin depth chart again this fall. But with anchors like two-way junior lineman Kasen Noble, the Crusaders are expecting better days ahead.
“We’re really young, but not as young as last year and that’s going to be a good thing,” said second-year Crusaders coach Ed Smith. “We’re going to be thin. We just don’t have a lot of numbers.
“But these guys have been out here since June 1. The last couple of weeks, we’ve been able to get in the weight room with small groups. They’ve really been working hard.”
Noble, who was selected as Sacred Heart’s “Player of the Pine Belt,” has helped set the tone.
“He’s striving for excellence each time he comes out here,” Smith said. “He tries to get better every day. I think that rubs off on the other guys around him.
"He leads with his actions. He leads with doing everything 100 percent. He's one of those guys you can count on to do it right."
Noble said he and his teammates were just trying to get better.
"I give it 100 percent when I try and just put my best on the field," Noble said.
The 6-foot-1, 275-pound Noble has the tools, Smith said.
“He’s a big kid, a strong kid,” Smith said. “Hard worker. He’s a good student. He’s the kind of guy that’s fun to coach. He’s a coach’s dream. You tell him once, and he’s got it. We’re counting on big things from him.
"He's going to play a lot of snaps for us. Of course, at this level, most of the guys are going to play a lot, but things start in the trenches up front, so he's not going to get a lot of rest time. Not a lot of time on the bench."
Noble said he’s looking forward to the season ahead.
“We’ve been through a lot and we’ve overcome a lot,” Noble said. “Being on this team has been great.”