• John Macon Gillespie

Myrtle, Leake County Make History

Edit by Cal Brown

Friday proved to be a magical night of firsts for both the Myrtle and Leake County football programs.

Coach Justin Hollis’s Myrtle Hawks made history by winning the program’s first every varsity football game.

And they did so without completing a pass. After allowing a score to H.W. Byers on the opening possession, the Hawks responded with a score of their own and never trailed again as they finished it off 38-26.

“Elation,” Hollis said of the moment following the win. “The kids really worked hard all week, because they realized we didn’t play our best the first week and we didn’t prepare like we should have.”

“So they made a commitment to work their tails off every day and carry it into Friday night. They finally realized the benefit of hard work in practice.”

Meanwhile on Friday night, some 130-plus miles south, first-year Leake County head coach Damien Darby and his Gators were reversing history.

Leake Central first came about and began playing football in 2012. In the six years from that fall until last season County had never defeated Central. Until Friday night, when the Gators took down their rival in the Gator Bowl by a final score of 30-27.

“Our mindset going in was to finish what we started last year,” Darby told SES Mississippi. “Last year, our plan was to be more physical than them and we were for two quarters. This year’s approach was to be more physical and play four quarters.”

“That win was not only huge for our football program moving forward, but for our school and for our community.”

As you would guess, both communities were lit up with excitement following their respective, significant wins. Both coaches highlighted just how excited their players, faculties and fanbases were following Friday night.

And despite the fact that both teams will go back at it against different jersey colors again this Friday, those were wins that last a few days.

“The kids were bouncing off the walls. I had players’ parents tell me it took them forever to go to sleep because they were so fired up. The community has really been on fire since,” Hollis explained.

While Darby noted, “The moments after were a rollercoaster of emotions. Happiness, joy, excitement, exhaustion, relief, you name it. I want them to enjoy this win, and understand it’s importance, but we can’t get too caught up in it because we have a new opponent this week at home.”

Leake County host McAdams this week, while Myrtle hits the road for the first time this season to face Potts Camp.

Myrtle is still awaiting a new facility to play their games at, though recent healthy donations are helping them make leaps and strides towards their goal. As well, they will face an unusual schedule this season due to being independent, but too, it could be a long schedule for a roster full of players who haven’t gone through a similar grind on the gridiron. Meanwhile, Leake County will face the likes of Nanih Waiya, Noxapater and other challenging foes within during their division slate.

Both programs face their own unique adverse situations, but last Friday night no one can deny they both had shining moments. In Myrtle’s case, perhaps a program kick-starting win, while Leake County could perhaps have put together a season-defining and program-defining win.

#Myrtle #LeakeCounty #JohnLukeMcCord

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