Yellow Jackets hope to return to winning ways

Winston County turns to new coach Mark Mitchell

By JOHNATHAN BENTLEY, Eagle Sports Editor
Posted 8/24/18

DOUBLE SPRINGS — Winston County has struggled through the last two years, winning just three games.

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Yellow Jackets hope to return to winning ways

Winston County turns to new coach Mark Mitchell

Posted

DOUBLE SPRINGS — Winston County has struggled through the last two years, winning just three games.

Enter Mark Mitchell to put the program back on the right track.

The Winston County first-year head coach opens his tenure tonight against Hackleburg in the season opener at Malcolm Blake Stadium in Double Springs.

Mitchell, a longtime football assistant at Cedar Bluff and Piedmont, is ready to see his Yellow Jackets in action.

“We’ve had a great attitude and great effort. As a football coach, when you have attitude and effort, good things are going to happen to you,” Mitchell said. “We’re not the biggest and we’re not the fastest, but if you get after somebody from whistle to whistle, it gives you a chance to win. That’s what this team’s got right now.”

Though the Yellow Jackets finished 2-8 in 2017, they narrowly missed a playoff spot, losing two region games by less than a touchdown — Falkville (20-15) and West End (26-19). 

Winston County moves to Class 2A, Region 5 this season, playing the likes of Tarrant, Sulligent, Aliceville, Cold Springs, Southeastern and Sumiton Christian.

“Tarrant, Sulligent, Aliceville — all three made deep playoff runs in the last couple of years. You’re going to have good football games out there every week. I think we will be right there (in the region race),” Mitchell said.

Winston County faces perennial power Hackleburg in the opener. The Panthers have made the playoff each of the last 10 years, winning 39 games over the last four years, and playing for the championship in 2009. 

“Hackleburg is one of the premier 1A teams. They are a really good football team. We will have to do everything we can to beat them,” Mitchell said. “Playing a tough opponent (in the opener) makes us better. It makes us focus right now. We can’t waste a rep because we know that Hackleburg isn’t wasting anything. We’ll give it our best shot.”

Winston County has 31 players on the roster, including seniors Noah Hadder, Michael Hendrix, Johnny Key, James Moore, Dante Smith and Zachary Wright.

The team also has nine juniors and 10 sophomores, including starting quarterback Brooks Bonds.

“We are going to have good size, but are we going to be able to do anything with it?” Mitchell said. “We have some guys with good speed, but are we going to block enough for them — to get them open so we can get that speed turned on? If you get tackled at the line of scrimmage it’s hard to know if you’ve got speed or not. We just need to block and tackle well, play the fundamentals of football and have some fun at it. If we do that, then we will be fine.

“We’re looking forward to playing a game. We’ve been beating up on each other the last few weeks. We are ready to hit somebody else. When you have a good opponent coming here, it makes it even better. We should have a good crowd. We are going to play hard, and give it all we’ve got. That’s one thing they will notice about our team. We will be disciplined, we’ll get after it and we’ll play with heart and a lot of effort.”