As Aberdeen first-year coach Alex Williams said, the honeymoon is over for the Bulldogs, and they are down to business as they start out fall practice.
“They were super excited as I guess any team would be when a new coach comes in, especially coming from where I came from,” Williams said. “I think they put more stock into that than what I did, but they were very excited about it. Now we are a family. We argue, fight and fuss and all the other good stuff. They know that I want the best for them, and I want to push them to get to where they’re supposed to be.”
Williams, who comes off three championships at West Point as a running backs coach and who also had success as an assistant at Aberdeen, said he feels like his players are starting to buy in.
“Not all, but some. I have a good core group, and I’m hoping the good apples will bring in the rest of the fold,” he said. “Not real sure if it will happen this year, but I think the three seniors we’re going to have will lay a good foundation for how things should go.”
Those three seniors laying the foundation are Daylan Copeland, Jaheim McMillian and Isaac Watson. Williams expects a large junior class to step up in the leadership roles as well.
“You have to have the juniors step up as well because they have a lot of quarters under their belts. The thing about it is that you have to learn how to lead the right way,” Williams said. “Sometimes being a leader isn’t about yelling, fussing and being negative. It’s about just doing things the right way. We haven’t quite got there yet, but we will. We have some guys that do everything the right way. The foundation that’s going to be laid this year will bode well for us in the future.”
The Bulldogs move into a different division with just five teams, but one of their new division foes is Noxubee County, which was a perennial powerhouse in Class 4A.
“Houston is going to be good too. We just have to line up, do our work and play ball. Hatley will be tough. It’s going to be rough in that division. Anyone at any point in time can be the last man out,” Williams said. “Choctaw will be tough. I know they’re going through a coaching change as well, but they have plenty of athletes over there as well. Noxubee County is Noxubee County. They have the toughest schedule in the state I believe of any 3A school. I don’t know anyone else that’s going to play West Point, Columbus and Louisville. They will be battle tested by the time we get to them, but that’s their formula all the time.”
Williams complimented former Aberdeen coach Eric Spann on setting up a tough non-division schedule before he left that will prepare his young team.
“I think the games he scheduled put us in position to get better and be competitive in the division. You can tell he put some thought into it, “Williams said. “South Pontotoc is moving up to 4A, and that’s always been a tough game for us. Caledonia will be tough. I think those tough games in non-division will help you in division and in playoffs.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Louisville for a jamboree game this Saturday against Yazoo County at 1 p.m.