#HSFT16: Stop No. 32 – North Pontotoc Vikings
|CLASS 3A | REGION 4
|HEAD COACH: Brian Sutton
|Sept 23||New Albany||Home|
|Oct 28||South Pontotoc*||Away|
ECRU, Miss. (WCBI) — After back to back double digit win seasons, it would’ve been easy to expect a drop-off in 2015 at North Pontotoc.
But the nay-sayers and those that underrated the Vikings were rudely awakened by a stout, physical and fast team that ran off 9 wins and the school’s 6th straight playoff appearance.
That could be only the beginning, as a strong junior class returns for their final go-around as seniors.
“I think the team is closer,” senior Tanner Turk said. “We’ve been around each other for 4 years. We’re ready to win.”
“Our defense will be really good,” senior lineman Jaylon Simpson said. “Offensive, we’ll be good and you know how Zay is.”
Everyone should know who Zay Cullens is by now.
The Memphis verbal commit became one of the most versatile and powerful backs in the state as a junior, and he’s back and ready to unleash once more, but this year he won’t catch anyone off guard. He’ll have the bulls-eye right on his back.
“It makes me want to work harder,” Cullens said on the extra focus. “Don’t put too much pressure on me because we have 11 other guys. I’m a team player, if you shut me down we still have 9 other people.”
“I tell people all the time he’s one of those guys when he says something, people listen because of his work ethic,” head coach Brian Sutton said. “A lot of times you have a kid who gets exposure he starts to get a big head. And he’s not like that.”
Not only has Zay gotten exposure, but so has North Pontotoc.
The Vikings are one of the top teams returning in Class 3A this upcoming season, and the bulls-eye will be on the backs of the team collectively in Ecru.
You ask them if they like it? Yes. In fact, they cherish it.
“We like people having expectations of us,” Cullens said. “We’re in a little town and we like people thinking big of us.”
“We just want to get there and get to state,” Simpson said. “That’s the only thing we’re thinking about this year.”
“We don’t write a lot of stuff on the board but I did notice sometime this summer someone had written the road to state,” coach Sutton said. “Somebody came back and wrote you can’t do the above if you don’t make yourself today. I thought that was pretty good. That has to be our mindset. Every day we go out we have to make ourselves better.”
North Pontotoc will start the season at home versus Saltillo before traveling up to Ripley to face the Tigers to round out the month of August.
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