For the Golden Tornadoes life is pretty good.
After all they are just eight month removed from hoisting the Class 5A state championship trophy.
But that was then, and this is now.
“We sang happy birthday to this year, and we had our moments,” says Laurel head football coach Todd Breland. “We put the trophy up, it’s in the case and we’ll leave it there from now on.”
“That state championship gave us a lot of energy, but yeah like I said that’s the past,” says Laurel senior tight end and Ole Miss commit Octavious Cooley. “We’re looking forward to the future.”
But with a state championship come the expectations of winning another.
That means 2015 will be the year of the big red target painted right on the back of Laurel’s red jerseys.
“We’re the reason we’re like that, by the way we held ourselves last year,” says Cooley.
“We don’t prepare any different way,” says Breland. “We know we’re going to get everyone’s best. Our schedule is a lot tougher this year and we wanted it that way. There’s some very quality football teams – well coached teams – early on the schedule, but the division we play in and the region South 5A and 5A in general you better be prepared because it’s going to get tougher down the line.”
Despite getting everybody’s best shot, Laurel remains one of the most dangerous teams in the state.
On offense they bring back the dynamic duo of Cooley, alongside senior quarterback and Memphis commit Keon Howard.
Throw in contributions from the other 10 returning starters, as well as a few up-and-comers, and 5A might just still belong to the reigning state champs.
“We’re going to keep a chip on our shoulder because right now we’re ranked No. 3 in 5A in the state and we beat Wayne Co. and Oxford, so we’re kind of like an underdog so we keep a chip on our shoulder about that,” says Howard.
“I hope there are no surprises,” says Breland. “I hope we meet the expectations that people have put on us and that we’ve put on ourselves, and maybe even exceed some of those.”
“Whatever you think about Laurel I mean at the end of the day we’re going to show you, eventually on Friday night,” says Howard. “Just come watch.”
Laurel opens up its season at Quitman on Aug. 21 at 7 p.m.