LEE COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) - With sixteen starters returning, expectations are high at Shannon High School.
However, the Red Raiders are playing for a teammate who's no longer with them - linebacker Cam Billups, who died in a car accident.
"We can't forget about him. He was a good kid," said Shannon quarterback Jordan Gilleylen of Billups. "Very good at football. We love him, just like he's family."
The Red Raiders' practice jerseys honor Phillips with his number 52.
"This would be his senior year this year," said Shannon head coach Darryl Carter. "He was (jersey number) 52 last year, and now we're letting people know that we haven't let him die down so it's '52strong.'....I think we have an opportunity this year to make big things happen this year."
Meanwhile, Saltillo enters 2018 with a new head coach. Ryan Summers was promoted from defensive coordinator after Pat Byrd left for Winston Academy.
Summers plays music over loudspeakers during the Tigers' practices, and he thinks his team may be playing a different tune in 2018 after a few years of struggles.
"They're wanting something more than what they've had," Summers said. "They're kind of tired of being pushed around, and laughed at, and giggled at, and we all are, and they've done the things I think that it's gonna take to change that mentality people have about here."