#HSFT20 Stop #37 — Winston Academy Patriots

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Aug 21 Leake Academy Away
Aug 28 Winona Christian Home
Sept 4 East Rankin Academy Home
Sept 11 Sylva Bay Academy Home
Sept 18 Oak Hill Academy Away
Sept 25 Tri-County Academy* Home
Oct 2 Simpson Academy Away
Oct 9 Canton Academy* Away
Oct 16 Clinton Christian* Away
Oct 23 Wayne Academy Home
*District games


LOUISVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — For some, a three-win season might not seem like much.

However, 2019’s three-win season marked the first time in eight years that Winston Academy had been playoff bound.

As the Patriots head into 2020, the team wants to build towards even more success.

“We were able to get to the playoffs for the first time in eight years and that was a big deal for us,” head coach Pat Byrd said. “It ended at Natchez-Cathedral quicker than we wanted it to, but the kids got a taste of it and hopefully that will propel us into the future.”

“I think we got a lot of guys who are bought in,” senior S/RB/SR Curry Black said. “We shocked a lot of people last year. We’re just hoping to improve on that, you know? Hopefully, win our first playoff game in a couple of years.”

“It really boosted our confidence,” senior OL Mack Thompson said. “Looking forward of getting back to the playoffs this year.”

The Patriots return 11 seniors, most of which will serve as starters. As far as experience goes, Winston Academy sure isn’t lacking. However, coach Byrd is focusing on the depth of his team in order to sustain success week after week.

“You’ve got a core group of 14-20 kids that have to play all night long. Can you get some depth out of your young guys and rest them on special teams? That’s going to be a big deal for us. A lot of times, you masquerade depth. A kid might have to be a backup to two different positions. That can be difficult. Especially early when it’s warm,” Byrd said.

“I feel like a lot of our younger guys are on the same level as our older guys. I feel like they’re just a good motivator and a good pusher for the upperclassmen,” Black said.

After last season’s playoff push, the Patriots are looking to be playoff-bound once again. Something that seems more attainable now that the Patriots have the experience under their belt.

“I think it gives you more of a realistic goal instead of something you just see that you want to reach out and touch. Now you’ve actually done it. Do we have the will to be able to push through and go another level, we’ll see,” Byrd said.

“I want us to win our first playoff game in a long time and I want to just shock the fans and people from other schools. Just show that we have a chance of doing what we want to do,” Black said.

“It might not be easier–we’re still going to have to push, push really hard, but I think we’ll have that extra confidence,” Thompson said.

Winston Academy looks to start the season off strong against Leake Academy on August 21st.

“Last year when we played Leake in the opening game they kind of took us out of the game really early with a couple of big plays. I want to see us be able to respond. When something bad happens–when some adversity hits can we do what we have to do and keep it a football game? Don’t let it get out of hand,” Byrd said.

Categories: 2020 High School Football Tour, High School Sports, Local Sports, Sports

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