By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The wins kept piling up for JR Kirby and his Munford Cougars last season.
The expectations for Kirby in his first year were modest by the so-called experts across the state. But by the time the 2014 season concluded, the Cougars were a part of the Class 5A State Playoffs putting a scare into the powerhouse Henry County Patriots.
“It was great,” Munford senior running back Wilson Lowry said. “It felt pretty good. We knew what we could do when nobody else did. We surprised them but it wasn’t a surprise for us to come out here and win like we did.”
Entering the 2015 season the Cougars are definitely on the radar. Kirby said he is confident in his returning despite sending most of his defense to the college level. The new leaders of the Cougars will be captains Lowry, Mikey Pugh, Jacob Ross, Jordan Panel, Kelton Ham and Christian Brooks. That corps. played a huge part in Munford’s success last season going 7-3. The Cougars only suffered defeats to rivals Covington and Millington before dropping a tough one to Hardin County for the District 13-3A championship.
“Nobody was on our side until we started winning,” Panel recalled. “We want to finish this year. We have a bitter taste left from last season.”
When the Cougars went on a winning streak after the M&M Bowl, classmates and the community started to shout some praises their way.
“We didn’t finish last year,” Pugh said. “When we got toward the end of the season I feel we got a little bit cocky. We had to learn how to win and how to handle it. We’ll do better this year about it.”
Ham noted the Cougars have absorbed the lessons from 2014 and will approach the new season with aggression and confidence.
“We want that playoff game and we want to host it, Panel said. “We have to come out prepared and be physical.”
For now the Cougars have narrowed their preseason goal down to Aug. 21 when the rival Covington Chargers come to town.
“The goal right now is 1-0,” Lowry concluded. “It’s that simple.”