Sicily Island quarterback Darick Karey throws a strike during passing drills at football practice Friday afternoon in Sicily Island. (Jake Martin / The Natchez Democrat)
Sicily Island quarterback Darick Karey throws a strike during passing drills at football practice Friday afternoon in Sicily Island. (Jake Martin / The Natchez Democrat)

Sicily Island plays one more season before bringing back varsity football

Published 12:07am Monday, August 11, 2014

SICILY ISALND — One year after Sicily Island decided to bring its high school football program back to life, Tiger players huddled around each other, gasping with their hands on their hips at practice.

“Come on guys,” said head coach Damon Price. “We’ve only been going 11 minutes.”

Sicily Island is preparing for its final season facing junior varsity competition, as the school will play a varsity schedule in 2015. With that in mind, Price is increasing the demand at practice in hopes of securing a district championship win next season.

“We’ve got some good kids here,” said Price, whose Sicily Island team is coming off a 4-4 season. “I understand losing is bad, but (the players) took it to heart. I told them, ‘We have to lose before we can win.’”

Ninth graders Courtney Boatner and David Wallace would’ve rather skipped the losing part, and if anyone on the team isn’t taking losing seriously, Boatner and Wallace will make sure that changes.

“I tell them to just look at the scoreboard and be quiet,” Wallace said.

To be fair, playing football was a new experience for most of the players. Last season’s team was the first Sicily Island high school football team in 12 years. On top of that, most of the players were going from playing a junior high schedule to facing high school competition.

“It was hard because everybody was bigger than us,” Wallace said. “We have to grow and develop.”

But all concerns are overshadowed by the fact that Sicily Island football is back, and the players couldn’t be more excited. Boatner said it’s a relief because fewer players are transferring to go elsewhere.

“Players started thinking about leaving the team and going other places because we didn’t have a program,” Boatner said. “Now that we have football, we can all stay here.”

Like last year, Sicily Island will run the Notre Dame box in 2014, along with a 4-4 scheme on defense. The Notre Dame Box uses misdirection and multiple blockers to setup a physical running game.

“If you run it right, it can’t be stopped,” Price said.

Price said he’s keeping the box both for scheme and tradition purposes, as Sicily Island used to run the box before the football program went away. The box requires big bodies, something Price said he’s still working on, but the absence of big men didn’t faze Boatner.

“We have to use our speed, quickness, awareness and vision against other teams,” Boatner said.

Big or small, win or lose, Price is excited to put another product on the football field. He eyes a better record and a championship run in the future, but most of all, he plans on giving Sicily Island fans something they’ve craved for over a decade. He feels his players are up for it.

“I told them, ‘Let’s go out and show these people that football still exists,’” Price said.