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MACON, Miss. (WCBI) — How do you exceed a 16-0 State Championship Season?

And how do you replace the likes of the State Rushing TD Record Holder, a 3-year starting quarterback, and two defensive superstars?

No big deal, but that’s what faces the Noxubee County Tigers.

And for any other team, it may be a mountain to climb. For Noxubee, it’s just another season.

“One thing I told our kids we’re not trying to replace those guys,” head coach Tyrone Shorter said.  “We’re trying to do what we can do. We ask our running backs to do what they can do. Don’t try to duplicate what Darrell Robinson did.

“Replacing Deangelo Ballard will be hard because he was a 3-year starter, but we’re not asking our quarterbacks to do a whole lot. We’re just asking them to manage the game.”

The Tiger cupboard certainly isn’t bare, Noxubee returns talent on both sides of the ball including two senior captains in linebacker Eric Hunt and receiver Jessie Bryant.

“Last year we were so dominant,” Bryant said.  “But, we got a lot of guys playing time and experience. So that talent just comes naturally for us.”

“We have talent but we’re awfully young,” Shorter said.  “We have six starters back. Four on defense, two on offense. But I like this team.

“Even though we’re young, people are asking me why is the schedule so difficult? This is the only way the guys will learn and get prepared for our district and the playoffs.”

But the question remains: how do the Tigers do better than last year?

Noxubee County finished 2012 as one of five teams in state history to complete a 16-0 State Championship season. This time around, the goal is to go back to back.

“The seniors have to step up and be hungry for another championship,” Eric Hunt said.  “We can’t let Noxubee County down.”

“Our goal is to finish the season undefeated and take one game at a time,” coach Shorter said. “Our kids believe they can do it. That’s the best part about our kids is they feel like they can come out and compete and win every football game.”

That difficult schedule that Coach Shorter mentioned earlier? Difficult is putting it mildly.

Starkville, Columbus, Louisville, West Point, and Aberdeen in the first five weeks.

If any team can face that challenge, it’s Noxubee County.

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