After ending its 56-game losing streak with a 38-12 win over Zion Chapel last week, the feeling has been surreal at Central-Hayneville.
“I thought it was a dream,” freshman receiver and defensive back Jaquez Bolling said. “I never thought we’d get a win. But when you work hard like we did that whole week, we had to get a win.
“I swear I wanted to cry, because I’ve never had a win before. My first high school win, my first year playing football, it was really exciting.”
Bolling’s 30-yard touchdown reception and 20-yard fumble recovery helped seal the deal and end the state’s longest losing streak. His performance even earned him Montgomery Quarterback Club Public School Player of the Week honors.
Coach James Bibb Jr., in his second year with the Lions, was familiar with the football team’s woes when he accepted the head-coaching position. After spending five years as a coach at region foe Calhoun, he said he knew the talent was at Central to turn it around.
Now, 15 games into his head-coaching tenure with the Lions, he got to see the hard work come to fruition.
“I always tell them, ‘You keep working hard, you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to mess around and beat somebody,’ ” Bibb said. “The only thing I could do is just look at them and watch them celebrate. I just stood by and watched them celebrate, swinging off tree limbs, off the rafters, turn the bus over, I couldn’t say anything. I just looked on and smiled.
“You see them around, there’s a lot of pep in their step. They walk around like macho man now. That’s the way I like to see them, with their heads held high.”
Junior offensive lineman and linebacker Darryl Dixon was in the fifth grade the last time the Lions tasted victory. While the post-game celebration resembled a Superbowl party, and the school was electric with a rare Monday pep rally, Dixon said Central is not content.
The Lions have the opportunity to start a new streak — a winning streak — on Friday when they host Goshen for homecoming.
“We’re not satisfied at all. We’re working harder than we’ve ever worked before,” Dixon said. “We’re practicing longer, practicing harder, and I hope that we win the rest of our games. Sometimes I even pray for it. Think about it all the time.”
Bibb said he can see how a win has changed the tone in practice.
“They became more excited and enthusiastic about it,” Bibb said. “They’re always here and ready to practice, but sometimes they get discouraged because they’re not winning. None of them ever played football before. But now they’ve tasted victory and know what it feels like and see all the support they got after a win, and they’re just ready to try to win more.
“It seems like we want to get greedy. We’re looking for more success. The sky is the limit. We don’t want to stop here.”