PERRY COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Perry Central linebacker and running back Derrick Hartfield says he's ready to step on the field for his senior year.
"It means a lot to come out here and play with everybody," Hartfield said.
But, he can't help but look over his shoulder a little bit. He was apart of last year's playoff team that lost in the second round to Taylorsville.
"Should've won it really," Hartfield said. "Should've won it really, but we're going to come back stronger this year."
17 seniors gone from last season, however, Perry Central head coach Wesley McLain says he feels confident in the new group of seniors.
"Every time I go to the grocery store you know I'm reminded of our 17 seniors and we did have a good group," McLain said. "But, we got a really good core group of seniors coming back. We got six or seven seniors coming back that's got a lot of really good experiences, so I feel good about our senior group and their leadership that they're bringing."
Hartfield is one of those core seniors. McLain says he has high expectations for Hartfield this season.
"Derrick's obviously basically a four-year starter," McLain said. "He's averaged 75 tackles you know for two or three years now, so I mean he's a proponent of our defense. We had a top defense in 2A last year and he was a big part of that, so we're looking for big things defensively, but he's also going to take over that role as running back as well, so we're really looking for him to step up and be a big-time player and that's why he's one of the best players of the Pine Belt."
Aside from this season being his last, Hartfield says this year is extra special with his younger cousin Ty Sumrall on the team too.
"It's good, you know I have to run him around most of the time," Hartfield said.
"They're going to split time at running back and Ty's coming in as just a freshman," McLain said.
Coach McLain says he's confident in making it to playoffs again.
"We do have a tough schedule," McLain said. "We got a lot of 4A teams and 3A, but I believe that's going to prepare us for our 2A schedule and I think we'll be fine. We had a state championship caliber team, so I think our young guys saw that and know how we need to get there."
Hartfield agrees with his coach.
"Definitely, most definitely," Hartfield said.