Player of the Pine Belt: Mount Olive fullback Marcus Baggett
MOUNT OLIVE, Miss. (WDAM) - The Pirates are finally working with a full crew this season.
Thirty players took the practice field on Monday, more than double from a season ago.
“We started off when I first got here, they were on a 16-game losing streak,” said sixth-year Mount Olive head coach Dante Durr. “We had our first winning season last year, 6-5.”
“When I came to this program in the 9th grade, we only had a handful of people but now everybody’s bought in,” said Mount Olive senior fullback Marcus Baggett. “We got everybody out and everybody’s working.”
More numbers also means Baggett can go back to playing where he fits best at fullback and middle linebacker after filling in at quarterback last season.
Of course, Mount Olive’s “MO” won’t change. The Pirates passed the ball just 17 times last year compared to 278 rushes for over 2,300 yards.
“We’re going to keep running the football, that’s what we do,” Durr said. “If they stop us, hey, we want to play physical football - go back to ole fashioned. It’s going to be great having [Baggett] back at his natural position. He worked hard this summer, put on about 10-15 pounds of muscle. So, I think he’s going to do great things for us.”
“Because of my size, I’m really versatile,” Baggett said. “I can play anything on the field.”
The Pirates hope the success on the ground leads to a few more wins this season.
Though, region 4-1A play doesn’t get any easier with the additions of Bay Springs and class 2A state champions Taylorsville.
“We’re ready for the challenge, that’s what we’ve been working for since 9th grade,” Baggett said. “The energy’s been high around here ‘cause we worked extremely hard this summer and we know what we put in. We know what we’re going to do this year.”
“To be the man, you got to beat the man,” Durr said. “We have two defending state champs in our division. We wouldn’t have it any other way than to play the best teams in our region. I’m in the SEC of 1A football. I think we’re going to compete very well.”
Mount Olive opens its season on August 27 at North Forrest.
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