HSFT Stop #50 — New Hope
Columbus, Miss. (WCBI) — Seth Stillman is entering year two at the helm of his alma mater’s football program.
“Being back home for that first year, it meant a lot and I felt we had a really good first year,” Stillman said.
While a 6-4 season might not look as flashy on paper, it was the improvement he was looking for in the New Hope Trojans. Stillman knows just how much this program is capable of because he was a member of the school’s most successful team more than a decade ago.
“It comes back to knowing that we can be successful here,” Stillman said. “New Hope sometimes is not known as a football school and we can be because I was lucky enough and fortunate enough to be a part of a football team that was here that was really, really good.”
Although last year, they saw a two-improvement, there is still more work to do. The main issue they are seeking to mend is playing two halves of football.
“We were a first half team,” senior Alex Dawkins said. “We want to compete in the first half but then we gave up in the second half. We’re gonna finish through the whole thing. We’ve just got to keep competing with people.”
Stillman knows success is going to take more than just talent, though.
“Without leadership, I feel like you’re gonna be mediocre every year,” Stillman said. “No matter how talented you are, you got to have some guys step up because if nobody’s talking about the standard that we set, then people forget about the standard.”
That’s why Stillman pulled aside Dawkins to let him know he needed him to truly lead this season.
“He said I need to be more of a leader because being the star player on the team, you have to lead the younger boys because the younger boys look up to me,” Dawkins said.
And that leadership has only brought the Trojans closer together.
“This summer, we’ve really come together a lot,” senior Grant Fleming said. “In the past, we weren’t very close and this year, we’ve done a really good job of being one unit.”
It was the relationships Stillman built and the experiences he had on his teams at New Hope that inspired him to come back.
“I still talk to every coach on that staff multiple times a week,” he said. “They’re the reason I got into coaching to begin with.”
The Trojans kick their season off Aug. 26 with a home-opener against Caledonia.