The Daily Leader’s 2023 All-Area Football: Coach of the Year

Published 10:10 am Saturday, January 6, 2024

Adam Smith, Loyd Star

A one loss regular season, a Region 7-2A championship and getting to finally unveil the new football stadium that had been long in the works — it was truly a dream season for Loyd Star football.

For first year head coach Adam Smith, it was the culmination of many dreams rolled into one. An alum of the school, Smith had long wanted to be the head coach of the program where he played and then later worked as an assistant coach.

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The 2023 season will be one that Smiht and Loyd Star fans won’t soon forget as it was filled with thrilling victories. For his leadership, Smith has been named The Daily Leader All-Area Coach of the Year.

Smith knew he wanted to be a head coach after being an assistant at Enterprise and Loyd Star. To get that experience, he first went to Byram Middle School to be the head coach at the school with nearly 1,000 sixth-eighth graders.

After a year at Byram, Smith was ready to move up being a head coach at the high school level, but to do that, in order to realize his dream, he had to take a job that many in the coaching fraternity would describe as a nightmare.

And please don’t read that as an insult to the Ethel Attendance Center Tigers, it’s just a fact, the program has struggled for many years to win games on the field.

Ethel had a combined record of 19-14 during Smith’s three years in Attala County. The Tigers were a combined 18-92 in the 10 years prior to him being hired.

Smith knew that he was ready to move on from Ethel as he and his wife Sabrina wanted to be back home, closer to their collective families.

And just like a dream, Loyd Star came open when former head coach Brian Ford, whom Smith had previously worked for, stepped down.

Hired by new Loyd Star principal Seth Lofton, himself an alum, Smith then put together a staff like something out of his wildest dreams.

Joining him to lead the Hornets were two of his oldest friends and former teammates, Dustin Sisco and John Smith. Rounding out the staff was former Loyd Star coach Josh Thibodeaux, who’d coached the three in high school.

Smith inherited a coach’s dream when it comes to the young men that he got to lead in his first season. The senior class was strong with leaders like Brandon Burt, the line was experienced with players such as Conner Cunningham and there was talent in the skill position group, led by freshman Jordyn Kees.

The team gelled and won some memorable games. Surviving a late Enterprise comeback in the season opener, beating Richton by three, coming back to win by seven at Amite County, winning the Possum Bowl on a last second field goal, beating 3A Franklin County on the road to end the regular season and stopping Lake at the goal line to win 21-20 in the first round of the 2A playoffs.

The dream ended a week later, in a 30-28 setback to Collins High. When the game was over, the Hornets gathered around their head coach, kneeling to hear the last post-game talk of the season.

“I tell you guys all the time and I mean it, there is no place in the world and no team I’d rather be coaching than this one right here,” said Smith.

And when he told them that this was his dream job, they knew he meant every word.