South Pontotoc Cougars' success story has unlikely elements

It’s hard to believe but it’s true. South Pontotoc is atop the Division 2-3A standings heading into the ninth week of the season.
Although they’re tied for first with Aberdeen – both teams are 2-0 and will play each other in Springville next Friday – South Pontotoc has looked impressive in its first two division games, defeating Mooreville 28-24 and Nettleton 41-34.
“No, not right now,” South Pontotoc interim head coach Roger Chism said when asked if he ever envisioned the Cougars (4-4 overall) atop the division standings. “As young as we are, we’re still struggling to put things together.”
What’s most remarkable about the Cougars’ current three-game winning streak is that they are winning despite having only six seniors, having their head coach to start the season resign after the first two games and having lost four out of their first five games.
Not to mention, the Cougars had not won more than four games in a season since 2006; South Pontotoc finished 5-6 that year after losing in the first round of the playoffs to Senatobia.
“It’s a confidence thing,” Chism said about his players. “They’ve started to get more confidence in themselves. The young kids have really stepped up.
“It’s been somebody different every week. Every week it’s someone else who steps up and has a big game, whether it’s offensively or defensively.”
Tough road ahead
Chism, South Pontotoc’s defensive coordinator for 13 seasons after serving as West Lauderdale’s head coach, knows what’s ahead of his squad the next three weeks: tonight’s road game against a power-running team in Water Valley, another away game against the Daily Journal’s top-ranked Class 3A team, Aberdeen, and a home game against perennial 3A power Winona.
That said, the Cougars are on the verge of their first winning season since 2005, when they finished at 5-5.
“Practice has been pretty intense,” Chism said. “We see ourselves getting better, and they’ve enjoyed that. It’s been a good change for us.
“We got a good bunch of kids and coaches who’ve worked extremely hard. We hope to certainly get better.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or john.wilbert@djournal.com

John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal