Natchez Bulldogs work out with head coach questions looming
NATCHEZ — The absence of a head coach couldn’t keep Natchez High football players from breaking a sweat on a humid Wednesday morning workout session.
Following Lance Reed’s resignation, it’s been business as usual for the Bulldogs. The morale among the players suffered, but a core group of veterans rallied the team together and set the tone with work ethic. As junior offensive lineman Gerald Wiley and senior linebacker JaDarrius McNeil put it, the wheels have to keep churning.
“The program doesn’t stop just because one person left,” Wiley said.
That’s the message senior wide receiver Sidney Davis and a group of returning players sent to the team in hopes of inspiring fellow Bulldogs to rally and get ready for the season.
“They were kind of down, but we had to keep their head up and keep moving,” Davis said.
Assistant coach Steve Davis, who interviewed for the coaching vacancy last week, took the reigns following Reed’s departure. Steve increased volume lifting and reps in order to get his team stronger and faster in the offseason. Every morning, the Bulldogs have lifted weights at 6 a.m. and ran sprints immediately after before going over schemes and calling it a day at 11 a.m.
The team practices with an uptempo style because that’s the way the team plays on Friday night, and if Steve has it his way, the uptempo will only increase.
“We’ve been working like this for the last 10 years, and the program Lance left in place was a good one,” Steve said. “Being in this situation, we didn’t want to lose anything. Since I was already here, I just transitioned in and added my little touch on it.”
After Reed suggested he might leave Natchez High School to Steve in the spring, Steve started putting in more uptempo offense to prepare for such a situation. And after Reed officially resigned, the team never stopped preparing, despite the unknown.
The question mark at the helm will likely remain that way until new NHS principal Willis Smith can recommend a candidate at the July 17 board meeting.
“We’re still interviewing candidates,” Smith said. “We hope to have someone by the next meeting, and we feel we’re close.”
Most of the interested candidates hail in Mississippi, both in the district and outside of it.
But bringing in a new coach with a new system is not a situation Sidney wants to experience so close to the season.
“I would like for somebody I know to get it,” Sidney said. “I don’t want anybody new to come in. We don’t have enough time to learn a new system.”
Sophomore safety Desmond Dawson agreed with his teammate.
“They might change it up, and then we’ll be back at square one again,” Dawson said.
Smith said the school is taking everything into account before making a decision, and that they are viewing all possibilities.
In the meantime, the season inches closer.
The football team will take a break next week as the coaches travel to a coaching clinic. Steve wants the players to get their legs back under them and prepare for two more weeks of weight lifting and cardio before entering fall camp.
“These players have put so much into this,” Steve said. “Like I told them yesterday, we are 44 days away from our Jamboree.”