Buddy Singleton was the last coach to lead D'Iberville to an unbeaten regular season in football.
In a ironic twist, Singleton has the 14-0 Warriors on the verge of their first perfect season since back-to-back unbeaten campaigns in 1978 and '79.
D'Iberville faces Noxubee County (13-0) for the Class 4A state championship tonight at 7 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.
The game will follow the 2A state title game between Forest and Baldwyn at 11 a.m. and the 3A title game between Louisville and Tylertown at 3 p.m. All three games will be telecast on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
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Singleton returned to the Warrior sidelines this season after retiring at St. John five years ago. To him, coaching kids is the same now as it was 30 years ago.
"The kids haven't changed much,'' Singleton said. "They want discipline like they always have. The kids have worked hard all season long . They've done what we've asked. I still love coaching.''
Some of the D'Iberville football players needed a while to warm up to Singleton, a member of the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame.
He's a 31-year coaching veteran.
"We didn't know much about Coach Singleton,'' Warriors wide receiver Kevin Norwood said. "When he started talking to us, I began to understand him. We respect him, and he respects us.''
Singleton first coached at D'Iberville from 1965 to 1987. He retired to become athletic director for Harrison County Schools. He returned to coaching in 1997 at St. John High School in Gulfport, and he directed the Eagles to the Class 2A state championship game in 2001. He retired after the 2003 season.
The Ocean Springs resident always jokes about returning to D'Iberville, No. 1 in the Sun Herald's South Mississippi power rankings all season long.
"It was a no-win situation for me coming back,'' Singleton quipped. "I knew they would be a good team. If we win, that's what we're supposed to do. If we lose, people will say, 'He's too old.' ''
Standing tonight in the Warriors' way of perfection is Noxubee County, last year's 4A runner-up.
The Buddy System A look at Buddy Singleton's coaching record at D'Iberville and St. John:D'Iberville1965 --- 3-61966 --- 8-21967 --- 8-31968 --- 8-31969 --- 9-21970 --- 9-21971 --- 8-1-11972 --- 7-31973 --- 6-51974 --- 7-3-11975 --- 5-51976 --- 8-2-11977 --- 9-21978 --- 11-01979 --- 10-01980 --- 6-51981 --- 8-31982 --- 9-21983 --- 6-41984 --- 8-31985 --- 9-21986 --- 8-31987 --- 10-22008-- 14-0Total --- 194-63-3
St. John1997 --- 5-51998 --- 8-41999 --- 8-32000 --- 11-22001 --- 5-102002 --- 11-32003 --- 4-8Total --- 52-35Overall record: 246-98-3
-- JAMES JONES
GAME PLAN What: Class 4A state championship Who: D'Iberville (14-0) vs. Noxubee County (13-0) When: Saturday, 7 p.m. Where: Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, Jackson Radio: WAOY-FM 91.7 TV: Mississippi Public Broadcasting Tickets: $12 at the gate.