2015 High School Football Tour – Stop #49: Saltillo
SALTILLO, Miss. (WCBI) — No longer are the Saltillo Tigers a football team you can look past.
Prior to the 2012 season, the Tigers had just three winning seasons in 30 years.
Today, head coach Pat Byrd has turned around the program and had three straight winning seasons in three years.
With that success comes a change in the mindset at Saltillo.
“I hope expectations are high,” coach Byrd said. “We’ve won 23 football games in 3 years. We’re in un-chartered waters for Saltillo football but I know we’re going to be very young.”
The Tigers are indeed very young this season, returning just five starters total on both sides of the ball plus Saltillo has a senior class that’s in the single digits numbers wise.
That won’t deter the Tigers from having lofty goals but the youth going into this season will have to grow up quickly.
“They’re going to have to get their nose bloodied,” Byrd said. “We graduated 18 seniors and a majority of those played on one side or both. We only have six seniors this year. We have a big sophomore and junior class and a huge freshman class. It’s just going to be trial by error early on and they will have to learn to sink or swim. We may have to kick them out of the boat to teach the kid how to swim.”
And the biggest name the Tigers will have to replace going into 2015 is Diamante “Mookie” Pounds.
The freak of nature ran for nearly 4,000 yards and 45 touchdowns in two seasons at Saltillo High.
The offense will be modified a bit but there’s hope they will continue to average 30 points per game like they have the last two seasons with Clayton Knight returning at quarterback.
“We’re not going to change what we do but we may tweak it,” Byrd said. “Obviously with Clayton back it gives us an added dimension throwing the football. But you don’t replace Pounds. We have 2 or 3 guys that will add together and we hope it comes close to equaling his production. But we still have to run the football to win.”
Saltillo will start the 2015 campaign at home versus North Pontotoc before hitting the road to face Amory the following week.