Hattiesburg is gearing up for Year 3 of the Tony Vance era, one that includes back-to-back trips to the Class 6A playoffs.
However both of those post-season appearances ended with a first round loss. Not to mention the Tigers are now out of 6A.
They have been bumped down to 5A in place of George Co., but a change of scenery does not necessarily change the culture.
“Yeah, it’s not going to change my expectations,” says Hattiesburg junior quarterback Julian Conner. “I look at it the same way as 6A, still got competition to play against.”
“Playoffs is playoffs,” says Hattiesburg head football coach Tony Vance. “You win or you go home and our guys understand that and again, moving from 6A to 5A didn’t get any easier for us. I promise. We’ve just got to be able to execute night in and night out and go out and play our best football.”
Now playing your best and being the best are not always one in the same, but that is what the Tigers are gunning for in 2015.
On paper nine wins in the last two years does not put Hattiesburg in the state title conversation, but the Tigers did beat the eventual 5A champion Laurel at home by 17 points last August.
All of a sudden playing for a ring is not too far out of the question.
“This year we’ve got to get past the first round this year,” says Conner. “I mean hey, I’m looking at going for a state championship this year.”
“It’s time to take that next step,” says Vance. “When you start talking about winning state championships you have to get into the playoffs but once you start getting into the playoffs you have to advance in the playoffs, and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing this year is advancing in the playoffs and hopefully getting the opportunity to play for a state championship.”
Hattiesburg gets a playoff rematch with 6A Brandon in a fall jamboree game Friday at 7 p.m.