It didn’t take long Friday night for players in white uniforms to surround John Feaster.
They posed for photos. Most smiled, with their arms around the new Stone High coach.
Friday marked a big win for the Tomcats as they avenged last year’s 40-point loss to Pearl River Central by up-ending the Blue Devils 49-19 at the newly renovated A.L. May Memorial Stadium.
The commotion around Feaster stood out because Stone actually wore its gray uniforms Friday.
Instead of Tomcats, it was Blue Devils who demanded Feaster’s attention.
After breaking down Stone High’s post-game huddle, Feaster was swarmed by his former PRC players, all eager to talk to the man who helped them to an 11-win campaign a year ago as defensive coordinator.
“I’m in it to impact lives,” Feaster said shortly after the win. “Winning football games is fun and — I’m not going to lie — I love to win and I’m a huge competitor, but I want to win lives. I love kids. My loyalty lies with the kids. I’ll say that until the day I die.
“They may run me out of coaching, but I’m going to always be like that.”
That kind of dedication showed Friday. Even minutes after his new team had roughed up his former squad, the line to get to Feaster was never-ending.
Perhaps Feaster’s counterpart, Larry Dolan, could relate a bit. The new PRC coach opened the season with a thrilling 34-29 win over his former team, Forrest County AHS. Afterward, Dolan was overcome with emotions as he talked about the win.
Feaster remained more composed Friday, if only because every five seconds he was being asked to pose for photos.
“If you ever had blood, sweat and tears and sacrificed any of your time for me, I owe you,” said Feaster, who coached at PRC for four years following a six-year stint at Picayune. “That’s how I roll. I pray for them kids just like I pray for my own.”
Focused on the Tomcats
When Feaster was hired at Stone High in April, he may have glanced at the upcoming schedule to see when his old and new Region 4-5A teams would meet. But if he did — he didn’t let on.
“I knew other people were (looking at the calendar), but I knew at the end of the day this is our first year together as a staff and I knew we were going to have a long way to go so I didn’t get into all of that,” Feaster said. “I tried to overlook that, because when you (focus on) that, you make a lot of mistakes because your emotions get involved and I try not to let them get involved.”
While Feaster may not have been talking up his blue-and-white reunion, the same couldn’t be said for his players.
“We wanted to win for Coach Feaster. He came from PRC, so we wanted to do it for him and do it for ourselves to make it easier for us to get into the playoffs,” said star running back Terrion Avery, who finished with 256 yards and four touchdowns. “We had to do it for Coach Feaster. We had to.”
Stone will look to improve to 5-1 on the early season Friday with the suddenly red-hot Pascagoula Panthers coming to town.