BELDEN – Losing last football season before it began came with costs. But it has also recharged a desire for Friday nights at Tupelo Christian Prep.
“It gave us a whole year of teaching. I think people at TCPS are once again hungry for football,” third-year coach Shaune Holiday said. “So we’re looking forward to that Friday night experience and I think it’s really going to help.”
Still a growing program in its eighth year, TCPS had 17 players when it felt it was in the best safety interest of the players to call off the season. There are now 25 in fall practice. They’ll still have to play both sides of the ball and that may not seem like that many more.
“You’ll be able to get a break this year,” Holiday said. “When you’ve got 25, you can put somebody out to cover somebody when they need a break.”
TCPS will play an independent, eight-game schedule before rejoining an MHSAA division next season.
“Winning is important, but right now winning’s not the main thing when you’re independent,” Holiday said. “This gives us a chance to learn the game of football and go through those growing pains while we’re young. It matters, but you can’t make the playoffs.
“It gives us a chance to gain confidence, to go out and win a few ballgames. We’ll hopefully win eight ballgames.”
Holiday hired former Tupelo and South Panola coordinator David Wilkerson to install a new offense.
Some of the season will go back to fundamentals, but the Eagles aren’t starting from scratch. They still practiced every day last season and played a couple junior varsity games.
Two of the fallen season’s casualties were Clayton Knight, a sophomore, and Luke Hudson, a senior, both now at Saltillo.
“The goal is to win eight ballgames,” Holiday said. “But let’s be honest. After the year last year and (winless) year before that, anything is an upside.”