East Oktibbeha football coach Randy Brooks talks with his team during a timeout. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
Nearly a month ago, the East Oktibbeha football team walked off of its home field after just suffering a defeat at the hands of Noxapater.
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Making matters worse, this wasn't just any loss. Six games into the 2010 season, this was the sixth straight time the Titans had come up short.
Randy Brooks, who just officially took the reins of the East Oktibbeha program mere days before the campaign began, knew his squad was better than this.
He'd seen their promise up close and personal, first as a member of former coach Anthony King's staff, and now as the head man himself.
Though King's departure for a spot on the Noxubee County staff left the Titans with a bit of early season uncertainty, Brooks felt there was no way his new team should be 0-6.
"At the beginning of the season, I knew we had a lot of talent on this team," said Brooks. "And when we got to the point that we started losing, the kids didn't quit."
Now, 26 days since the aforementioned loss to Noxapater, the Titans resiliency has given them new life.
They've now won three straight, all Class A, Region 3 division games, to give themselves a 3-6 overall record and a 3-4 conference mark.
First, East Oktibbeha dismantled Thomastown 64-0 on the road, then blew out Edinburg 60-13 in Crawford.
Last Friday, Brooks' Titans proved the big wins against the struggling Bulldogs and Eagles were no fluke, as East Oktibbeha traveled to Weir and defeated the always-tough Lions 38-28.
"The difference has been the kids are starting to believe in themselves and starting to believe in the offense," said Brooks. "We went through a period of adjustment where the kids went from the coaching style of coach King to my coaching style. It just took them a little while to adjust. We found out (after the Weir win) this is what we should have been doing all season long."
Speeding the transition process has been the recent outpouring of support from former Titans and parents who are volunteering their time to help teach the current team.
Brooks says the extra help has made all the difference.
"For a while, it was just me and one volunteer parent," said Brooks. "Now, we've gotten to the point where we can break down and go to individual stations. That's really helped us, especially over the last two games, we've been able to do individual drills. I've got somebody to work with the offensive linemen now, and someone to work with receivers. That gives me a chance to work with the quarterbacks and that has really helped (Chris Hunter) a lot."
Hunter, a dual-threat senior signal caller, is the centerpiece of the Titans potent offensive attack that averages 30 points per game.
Through the air, Hunter has piled up over 1,200 yards through the team's nine games. On the ground, he's nearing 1,000 yards.
"I tell him all the time that if (West Oktibbeha quarterback Von Smith) wasn't having such a good season, (Hunter) would be having a good season," said Brooks.
While he's played a large part, Hunter has had plenty of help in turning the Titans' season around.
Brooks also credits the play of Kortland Petty, Terence Rice, Marlon Fair, Monte Horsley and others in bringing new life back to the team.
Their contributions have been even more magnified with injury woes of Lexie Edwards and Arthur Gillespie.
"Everybody's just really been stepping up," said Brooks.
The challenge now for East Oktibbeha is to keep streaking in the right direction. With just two games left after this week's bye, a road game against division-leading Nanih Waiya and a home showdown with Ethel, the Titans desperately need two more wins to give themselves their best shot at a playoff berth.
Brooks believes his team has a realistic shot at sneaking into the postseason, provided his club keeps the focus on themselves.
"We've just got to do our part to get us into the playoffs," said Brooks. "With high school kids, nothing is easy, but with this group I've got here, I've got confidence that they'll feed off of what we've been doing. I don't see a problem with us keeping things rolling these last two games. We've got a goal set that we want to reach. We're excited about it."