Great expectations, AC returns with one goal in mind
Published 4:34 pm Thursday, August 10, 2023
NATCHEZ — Many of the seniors on this Adams County Christian School football team were on the sidelines and part of a state championship team as freshmen in 2019. It is very possible those same seniors could find themselves in the state championship game or at least that is the expectation when they kickoff against Bowling Green Friday night at 7 p.m.
Back-to-back seasons have come to an end in the semi-final round of the MAIS playoffs for the Rebels. Rain drenched fans and tear soaked faces were the last bitter memory of an otherwise phenomenal season in 2022.
Head Coach David King enters his 26th year as a head coach following an 11-1 season. Tri-County beat the Rebels 28-21 a game shy of the state championship and Kirk Academy had handed a similar defeat in 2021.
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“It was tough to end the year like that but it says that the expectations are high and we like that. It is a good sign of a good program,” King said. “It is my 26th year and I’m excited. As long as I continue to be excited about it I’ll keep doing it. A lot has to do with these kids. I’m excited to begin another year.”
ACCS has a pretty tough schedule ahead of them, King said. The Rebels will play Bowling Green, Simpson Academy, Jackson Prep, Silliman, Oak Forest, Brookhaven Academy, Parklane, Amite, St. Al, Cathedral and Greenville St. Joe. District opponents are BA, Cathedral, Oak Forest and Silliman.
King said despite the brutal schedule with powerhouse teams like Greenville St. Joe, the team has worked hard this summer. He believes the team could surprise some people this year. ACCS moved up from MAIS 4A ball to 5A ball. King said their numbers are geared more towards 4A ball but will still have players playing both ways.
One of the challenges with playing in 5A ball is all of the teams are good, even the weak ones, King said. The long-time coach will face some familiar opponents and coaches. Ron Rushing was a good friend of King’s and is coaching at Parklane Academy now. AC will be a hungry team and ready for the challenge this year.
“They want to go further. We have created a culture here where the expectations are high. We take football seriously and they want to be in a championship game,” King said. “As I’ve grown older, the championship game means less. I like to see teams get better. It is a high task but I like the standard to be the best you can. They expect it and we welcome the pressure.”
Veteran weapons will return for the Rebels. ACCS returns junior starting quarterback Coleman Carter this year with two years of experience in the spot. Carter threw for 2,194 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. He also rushed for 588 yards and nine touchdowns and was selected to The Natchez Democrat All-Metro team.
King said he expects great things from Carter and all of the veteran players. Carter has matured in the last two seasons and AC will be able to do more with him this season offensively. Senior leadership is also strong on the team.
Offensively, the Rebels were powerful last year scoring 31.3 points per game. Tristan Burns returns as a receiver who had 262 receiving yards last season and is a sophomore. Senior receiver Jordan Berry led the program with 494 receiving yards and five touchdowns last year. Berry led the team with 361 return yards on kickoffs, punts and interception returns last season.
Defensively, the Rebels will be led by a new defensive coordinator. Stanley Smith, previous Ferriday Head Coach, replaces Richey Spears who went to Oak Forest this summer. King said he won a lot of games with Spears and will miss him. Smith has since jumped into the program and got to work.
King said the senior class has really stepped up and led by example. AC has a strong sophomore class of players too.
“They have really committed themselves,” King said. “I really feel like their leadership will make the difference. We also have a talented sophomore class that has had a lot of success in junior high and they will contribute heavily.”
King said he has pondered if each team is truly different or just a mixture of previous teams. He seems to have settled on each team establishing its own identity over his 26 years of coaching.
Football at Adams County Christian School and Trinity Episcopal Day School have been highly successful while forging their own identity, King said.
“I embrace each one of them and what makes each team special. They all have personality and quirks,” King said. “We will do similar things to what we have done in the past but it will still be slightly different which makes it fun for the coaches. We will miss those seniors from last year but this group is its own new team. They are close knit, hungry and want to get back to a state championship now they realize how difficult it is.”