It does not matter what the circumstances are when it comes to upgrading and keeping the Coahoma County School District’s football facilities in the best condition possible. The coaches and athletes have taken steps to make sure the football field, locker room, and weight room are ready for the upcoming 2023 season.
The recent storm on Sunday night, where winds reached up to 69 miles per hour, caused some issues with the football field. However, the athletes and coaches spent the earlier part of the week cleaning up the mess.
“Due to all the straight-line winds and stuff the other day, we had three windows knocked out, trash everywhere,” said Red Panthers head coach Jeremiah Brassell. “The soccer goal was moved from one end zone to over the fence by the home stand. All our barrels and everything else were moved from the practice field all the way to past the cemetery. We had to come out and straighten everything up. The team and coaches straightened everything up.”
Brassell stressed the importance of the team cleaning up the field on its own.
“We’re taking the initiative and doing things that need to be done ourselves, and we’re not waiting on anybody else,” he said. “Because, most of the time, if you want something done, the fast way to do it is to do it yourselves. Take care of your own.”
Brassell said the grass needs cutting, and there are a few minor issues with the field, such as the sprinkler system, but it is in good enough condition for the Red Panthers to play.
“Overall, we’re at a place where it’s still allowing us to move forward,” he said. “Nothing is holding us back.”
The storm did not cause any power outages in the Red Panthers field house, but they still have taken steps to deal with the heat advisory.
“It’s not really a problem because we keep them hydrated and we keep them out of the sun as much as possible,” Brassell said. “We try to go out early in the morning, and we work together anyway. The only time we’re really out in the sun is for 7-on-7.”
Red Panthers junior high head coach Latarius O’Neal said the goal is to finish practice before noon every day.
“We practice at the same time,” he said. “That’s why we try to get it in early and try to get it over with before the heat comes in.”
The name of the Red Panthers’ field is currently Crumpton Field. Since the CCSD bought the field from the Clarksdale Municipal School District, there have been discussions about changing the name, but that is not a concern for Brassell.
“The name for the field is one of the things I am not worried about,” he said. “I’m more worried about what goes on on the field.”
“They can name it Joe Dirt University for all I care,” Brassell continued jokingly.
Since buying the field from the CMSD, the Red Panthers have made improvements to the weight room.
As of a week ago, there are five different racks for bench and squats, two powerlifting stations, dumbbells from 5 to 100 pounds, two ab stations, two battle ropes, a leg press, glute-ham machine, plyo boxes, and there are plans to add more. The Panthers mascot is on the equipment and in the middle of the weight room floor. The walls are still being painted.
O’Neal stressed the importance of upgrading the weight room with the CCSD adding powerlifting, volleyball, and softball to the athletic program. He hopes the football program does the same things the basketball program has done under head coach Derrick Moore. The Red Panthers have won five of the last seven state championships in basketball.
“We just want Coahoma County to support the football programs,” O’Neal said. “We’re trying to build powerhouse programs to add on to what Coach Moore has been doing the last decade in basketball. We’re trying to get up there with him as far as football so they can have football carry over to basketball, basketball carry over to baseball, and the other sports.”
The Red Panthers high school and junior high programs have been practicing throughout the summer.
“Things are going great,” Brassell said. “Participation is up. We are averaging between 40 to 55 high school and junior high players.”
Brassell said athletes who do not practice during the summer will not play in the fall. Senior Devonta Boyd is the quarterback, but the plan is to eventually move him to wide receiver.
“He’s the quarterback until I find another quarterback,” Brassell said.
Brassell said the Red Panthers are strong on the offensive and defensive line but need to find capable running backs and linebackers. Linemen include senior Henderson Clark, junior Dennis Ingram, junior Harrison Clark, sophomore Kejuan Hampton, and sophomore Darron Banks.
“We’re just trying to stay consistent in what we’re doing. Consistency starts with us as coaches,” Brassell said. “I’m just hoping that it falls onto the team as well.”
O’Neal said 18 to 25 athletes have been practicing for the junior high each day, noting there are a lot of strong upcoming seventh graders.
“We’re just trying to work everybody in and trying to become one program, junior high and school working together, junior high coaches working with high school coaches, and high school coaches working with junior high coaches and teams,” he said. “We’re just trying to get better.”
O’Neal said he has only been able to see his skill athletes compete in 7-on-7 matchups.
“I would say the concern, as I think every coach would say, is having a good offensive and defensive line,” he said. “You know you can’t do anything without the line.”
O’Neal said two key athletes coming back are the co-MVPs from 2022. They are receiver, running back, and quarterback Jamarrius Johnson and offensive and defensive lineman Deon Elmore.
PHOTO CUTLNE: The Red Panthers clean up the field after the storm Sunday night. Photo credit Latarius O’Neal