BAY SPRINGS, Miss. (WDAM) - Two-way lineman Holden Brown was among a fistful of players who came in as freshmen and helped build Sylva Bay Academy’ football into a playoff-caliber program.
This fall, Brown said he and his fellow seniors hope to make the Saints successful in 2020 but also provide a boost to the Saints going forward.
“It’s been a great experience,” sadi Brown, who was selected as Sy;lva Bay’s “Player of the Pine Belt.” “Now, we’ve really worked hard this summer, and every year, we want to have a better team. That’s the goal, pretty much.”
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Brown has been a two-way starter for the past four years, playing guard on the offensive line and end on the defensive front.
“You can’t get mentally tired,” Brown said. “You’re going to get tired during the games, but you’ve just got to push through it.
“The first couple games are a little tiring because the first few weeks in August are pretty bad, a little hotter than usual.”
As a member of the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools, the Saints have been working on conditioning since May, and will have a scrimmage and jamboree under their belts before their season officially kicks off Aug. 21.
Sylva Bay coach Terry Underwood said Brown and the seniors not only have been leaders this year, but played major roles while coming up through the ranks.
“These seniors were ninth graders when I got here, and they’ve been a good group of young men,” Underwood said. “We had to do some changes, as any coach does at any new program, changing some things to what you want it to be. They bought in well, as did the rest of the guys in the program.
“What’s happened along the way is we’ve had some success. If you work, and don’t have some sort of success, it’s hard to sell the product.”
The Saints reached the South State championship game in 2018, and won three of their final four games in 2019 to reach the postseason again a top four seed. In the past three years, Sylva Bay also has won a pair of district crowns, as well as a junior high championship.
Brown has been a key part of that success, Underwood said.
“He’s hardly ever missed a practice since I’ve been here, whether that’s a summer workout or in the weight program or a regular practice,” Underwood said. “He’s just a great kid, and he has talent.
“I personally think he has the ability to play at another level. He has a lot of talent. He has a lot of ability. He has smarts. He has a great work ethic. He’s a team captain, a team leader. HE’s going to be one of the best I’ve coached in a while.”
Brown said he hadn’t considered the next step much at this point.
Right now, his focus is on what lies ahead over the next few months.
“It’s been a wild ride,” Brown said. “We’ve got better numbers than we did last year, with about seven of us returning from last year.
“We should be ready for next week.”