In his second season as Northeast Lauderdale head football coach Curt Blackburn has one word etched in the mind of trojans... "win".
"I tell 'em to win one play at a time. One game at a time," says Blackburn. "Don't look back. Always looking to the next one."
The Trojans improved from one win to a 5-7 mark in Blackburn's first season. In year number two, he's only making one change to his staff.
"We've got a lot more positive attitude going into this season than we had last season," says Blackburn. "The year before, we came off a 1-10 season. We didn't have but about nine or ten seniors that had played. This year our senior numbers are really high, so the kids have got a year behind them... got a little bit of success last year and tasted it and are just hungry."
With the departure of brothers Josh and Philip everett, the Trojans lose leaders at runningback and quarterback. The new signal-caller is Troy Neely, who played offense and defense last season.
"Troy played receiver and defensive back for us last year. It's not like he's inexperienced," says Blackburn. "He saw some playing time last year at quarter-back. He's got a pretty strong arm, and he's pretty quick."
Troy will benefit from being surrounded by veterans. The Trojans return all their receivers. Kicker and punter Mikey Meyers returns after suffering an injury midway through last season. Four offensive linman return, including seniors Devokias Mosley, Reginald Hopson and Brandon Windham.
"We've been side by side since seventh grade," says Windham of he, Mosley and Hopson. "We call ourselves the big three, but our other offensive lineman...they're good, but they're learning. They're youngsters."
The Trojans schedule will get a shake-up when they travel down highway 39 to play Lamar in the first ever meeting between the two schools. Up first is Jackson Academy. Northeast matched the Raiders with over 380 total yards, but turned the ball over eight times in a blow-out loss. Windham says that won't be the story this year.
"We feel very confident. We're ready for the game. We're very pumped up. They're ready to play."