In the past half-decade, the Pearl River football program has won a total of five games.
Enter Mike LaBourdette.
Four games into his first head-coaching job, the Rebels coach has his squad at 3-1 heading into their matchup against Haynes Academy on Thursday.
“I knew what this program is capable of because I was an assistant here from 2007-2010,” he said. “We were 6-4, 7-2 and 5-5. I know what this community and this team are capable of if they have the right type of leadership.
“Right now, I know we don’t have a ton of athletes, but I will tell you I know these kids work hard and represent their community well. This is a blue-collar football team just like the Pearl River community. That is why my mentality fits as well as it does. I knew I could get things going in the right direction.”
Taking over a program that hasn’t seen the playoffs in almost a decade, LaBourdette said his message to his senior class was simple.
“I came in and told them the goal was to get them (the seniors) five wins,” he said. “You are talking about a senior class (Class of 2016) that hasn’t had five wins in their entire high school career. If we as a program can achieve that goal, then as a coach, that shows me we are doing the best that we can.
“Our record stands at 3-1 right now, so the goal is very achievable. Our overall program goals are to be a perennial playoff contender.”
Not wanting to dwell on the past, LaBourdette said the situation he took over was less than ideal.
“I stepped into a traffic jam for sure before I got here,” he said. “A car that has been flipped over several times I guess is the best comparison. There are tons of things that needed to and still need to be fixed in this program.
“Previous coaching staffs tried to be the friends of the players. The problem with that is that has the potential to get to the point where there is no respect for adults.
“One of the first things I did when I arrived was to replace the entire coaching staff. It was a complete overhaul, and it needed to be done. For us to be truly successful as a program, on and off the field, there are still a tremendous amount of things which need to be changed.”
With wins over Pine, Sci Academy and Fisher, the Rebels are led by Jace Littleton’s 487 yards rushing on 45 carries. Ladarious Wilford has also had a solid first four games with 260 yards on 37 attempts.
Quarterback Justin Dean has completed 15 of 26 passes for 250 yards and three TDs. His top receiver is Al Dauth with eight catches for 163 yards.