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Hart rises to challenge as new head coach at Loyd Star

Anthony Hart’s first year as head football coach at Loyd Starprovided challenges on and off the field. Besides replacing anear-legend in Coach Roe Burns who retired, Hart had to cope withthe loss of 17 starters from an 11-1 state playoff squad.

Like a large jig-saw puzzle, the pieces began falling into placeas the season progressed, despite injuries to key players. Hart’sHornets posted a surprising 8-3 record. They were runners-up toRichland in the Division 6-2A race and achieved the state playoffswhere they lost a close encounter on the road with Gulfport St.John.

For his accomplishments, Hart has been selected The DailyLeader’s Coach of the Year on the 2000 All-Lincoln County FootballTeam. Hart, 35, is a 1983 Loyd Star graduate so his roots run deepat the school. He served one year as an assistant to Burns in 1999,working as defensive coordinator.

“Our senior class was special,” said Hart. “They had tolearn a lot of new things. They had a great attitude and workedhard. Players are the reason you win or lose.”

Besides learning Hart’s approach to football, the Hornetshad to adjust to a pair of new assistant coaches in Barry Reevesand Johnny Daves. Reeves served as offensive coordinator. Davescoached the defensive line, receivers and kickers.

“Especially important to be was the hiring of Reeves andDaves,” said Hart. “My assistant coaches did a great job.”

Hart had an outstanding mentor when he started his coachingcareer He served on the staff of the highly successful Bubba Davisat West Point, Wayne County and Walker High in Jasper, Ala. Inbetween, he coached three years as an assistant at Brookhaven, alsoserving as head baseball coach. He was head football coach at WestLauderdale in 1998 before moving to Loyd Star.

“Coach Burns built a solid foundation in 20 years,” saidHart., “Our players go on the field expecting to win. They aredetermined to make the state playoffs every year.”

At Loyd Star, Hart played on the first Hornet team coachedby Burns. Hart late played nose guard at Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege and graduated from Mississippi College with a degree inmathematics. He teaches algebra at Loyd Star.

Hart said community support has been a driving force behindthe football team’s success. “We have good crowds follow us to theaway games and they have tailgate parties. Community support is asstrong as anywhere I’ve been. They are always there for us, even ifthey disagree.”

In coaching, there is never a complete absence of adiscouraging word from fans, win or lose. Hart tries to keepeverything in perspective.

“We try to keep God on our team,” said Hart. “That’ssomething we stress, even though we have a variety of religions onour team.”

Hart serves as Huddle Leader in the Loyd Star Chapter of theFellowship of Christian Athletes. He is state president of the FCACoaches Association.

Hart said his home life has been a blessing. He is marriedto the former Traci Fredrick of Muscle Shoals, Ala. They have twosons, Daniel, 8, and Derek, 6. They are members of MacedoniaBaptist Church.

“The family support I have makes my job easy,” said Hart.”(Wife) understands the hours.”

Physically, it had been a difficult year for Hart. Slowed bya painful herniated disk, Hart often experienced extreme back pain.He wore a brace during practice and at games. He suffered extremenumbness in his legs and standing was often difficult.

Hart is feeling much better since he underwent surgery lastweek to remove bone chips and a portion of the disc. He anticipatesa full recovery and will coach the Loyd Star baseball team thisspring.

The Hornets will tackle a tougher football schedule in2001.

Additions to the Loyd Star menu are Amite County andBassfield. Either Morton or Seminary also will be added. Hart wantsto beef-up the schedule to help his team prepare for the stateplayoffs.

Hart said Loyd Star principal Terry Brister has been a plusfor the football program. “Mister Brister gives us a chance to besuccessful in all sports. He’s a good man to work with.”