BOONEVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - Since 2010, Mike Mattox has been the head coach of the Booneville High football team.
In his first eight seasons, Mattox never missed a game.
Shortly before the start of the 2018, Mattox says something didn't feel right.
"During our preseason jamboree, my back started hurting real bad during the ballgame," said Mattox. "I thought it was just back spasms, and come to find out, it wasn't. It was pneumonia caused by an abscess on my lung."
Since the diagnosis, Mattox has only been able to attend a handful of Booneville practices, which he observes from his truck that's perched high above the practice field.
Mattox has lost 40 pounds, but says that's not necessarily a bad thing.
In week two, Mattox felt well enough to coach the 'Skunk Bowl' at Baldwyn from the press box.
Booneville won the game 48-0, but Mattox acknowledges he pushed himself too hard that night.
Mattox hasn't coached a game since the 'Skunk Bowl' on August 24. He says it's been a tough pill to swallow.
"The hardest part is not being around your kids," said Mattox. "You feel like you're letting down the community, your kids on the team, and your coaches. You're not pulling your weight, not doing what you're supposed to be doing, even though you can't help it."
The show must go on. Third-year offensive coordinator Kyle Bond has been Booneville's head coach in Mattox's absence. The Blue Devils improved to 5-0 follwing Friday's win at Tishomingo County.
"The team just kind of rallied around this unique situation," said Bond. "They've played extremely hard and responded with maturity. I think they've done a fine job, and obviously it has translated to the field."
"Coach Mattox said one man doesn't stop this show," said Booneville senior running back Dallas Gamble. "He told us that this summer. He says one man doesn't stop this show, and the first man he pointed at was himself. That was really what stuck out to me when he got sick."
Booneville returns to action September 28 at Kossuth. Mattox says he's taking things one day at a time, and won't push himself too hard.
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