Mary G. Montgomery coach Zach Golson directs the offense at a recent practice as quarterback Jared Hollins looks on. Hollins was 14-of-16 passing for 245 yards and a TD in one half of the Vikings’ 28-14 spring football win over Hancock, Miss. (John O’Dell/Call News)
By JIMMY WIGFIELD
Those who think it was a mirage that Mary G. Montgomery won six straight football games last year may have no choice but to rub their eyes, discard the past and consider a new reality.
After the Vikings’ starting offense made a Mississippi playoff team go nearly prostrate in the first quarter of a spring game and the backups doubled the score in the second half, coach Zach Golson believes this spring was much better than the one which helped put MGM in the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.
“I think we’re way ahead and we’re in a really good place,” Golson said after a 28-14 win over Hancock on May 19 in Poplarville, Miss. “We challenged our kids to show up and go to work and they did.”
All-state players Jared Hollins and James Bolton showed they will continue to be one of the state’s best passing combinations in 2023.
On the first play, Hollins found Bolton for a 40-yard gain, the first of an incredible 40 snaps in the first half alone.
“We played really fast,” Golson said. “We’ve still got work to do but our coaches did a good job of emphasizing playing fast at each position and we did a better job of teaching it this spring.
“We were very fast and very physical on both sides of the ball. Our conditioning looked really good. You could tell (Hancock) was starting to get fatigued by the third drive and it looked like we hadn’t even gotten started yet.”
Hollins enjoyed target practice against the Hawks, going 14-of-16 passing for 245 yards in one half. Bolton, who led Class 7A with 1,304 receiving yards last year, had six catches for 140 yards and a touchdown on a 45-yard throw from Hollins and Troy Flowers scored on a 3-yard run.
“Jared was super-efficient and I thought we played well up front,” Golson said. “James and Jared picked up where they left off and Troy had a good night too.”
Golson said Hollins — who passed for 2,152 yards, 21 touchdowns and only two interceptions last year — has continued to raise the level of his play.
“I thought one of the things we’ve been working with him on and we want to see is continuing to get his footwork cleaned up, which will make him more elite,” Golson said. “He did a good job with it. And his presence and his poise — he’s got that demeanor the guys look to.”
Hollins and Bolton showed no rust in their first live game action since last year but provided plenty of dust for Hancock to inhale when they chose a play-action pass on a post route on the first snap.
“Right out of the gate, it was right on the money,” Golson said of the throw. “There was good coverage but Jared made a great throw and James made a contested catch.”
The Vikings didn’t score on that first possession but Flowers’ 3-yard touchdown run on the second series finished a nine-play drive and Hollins’ 45-yard TD pass to Bolton gave MGM’s starters a 14-7 win in the first half.
Golson said his second Vikings team is already developing a personality he likes as it seeks to reach the playoffs in back-to-back years for only the third time in school history and end an 0-8 drought in the postseason.
“This team is going to be physical,” he said. “Our coaching staff has challenged our guys to play that way. As fast as we are getting to the point of attack, it allows you to be more physical.
“The defense swarmed to the ball all night. Hancock is very physical and bigger than us and I was worried about how we might match up.”
Golson was elated MGM’s backups beat Hancock’s 14-7 in the second half behind scoring passes from the No. 3 and 4 quarterbacks, Brandon Smith and Dane Saucier.
“We had 105 kids and everybody got to play at least one drive,” he said. “Our twos played very well.”
The Vikings will now go on the summer 7-on-7 circuit with appearances at the University of South Alabama and the University of Alabama before concluding in mid-July at the prestigious National 7-on-7 at Hoover.
“I’m excited to see this group up there,” Golson said.