HSFT22 Stop #12: Winona Tigers
WINONA (Miss.)- Joey Thompkins is in his ninth year as Winona’s head football coach. While the Tigers had a high-powered offense in 2021 and were incredibly successful, they fell to North Panola in the third round of the playoffs.
“We’ve been there the last five or six years as one of the teams to beat. We haven’t gotten to that pinnacle. We got there in 2017, just didn’t win,” Thompkins said. “There are things you have to do and the ball has to bounce your way a lot.”
Deriaun Townsend was a star for the Tigers. Last season he had over 1,800 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground. Filling that void won’t be easy.
“Nobody will be Deriaun. I won’t ask them to be,” Thompkins said. “We have to pick up the slack in the passing game. We have two running backs to fill his shoes. We have Denariaus Robinson who will be a junior and good player and Zaishun Nash will be a 10th grader and good player. They will share the carries.”
“Young guys like me need to step up and fill their shoes,” receiver JJ Burt said.
“He was great. We’ll do well though and we have good 11th graders stepping up to help,” senior safety Mes Bays said.
Multiple position groups have impressed Tompkins, headlined by the receivers.
“We will have them all back from last year who didn’t produce a lot, we didn’t ask them to but they’ve been doing well in 7-on-7s. I am also looking at our linebackers, three of four coming back is huge. I’m expecting a lot out of those position groups,” Tompkins said.
Tompkins’ players are fully bought into him.
“He means a lot and has taught me a lot on and off the field. He’s all about taking care of in-class stuff first,” Burt said.
“I’ve known him for a long time. Been a manager for this team since 5th grade. He has stayed on me and made me work hard and brought everything out of me,” Bays said.
Winona’s football season opens up August 26th against Choctaw County.