NORTH COURTLAND — There are at least two things that make Ca’ni McCoy smile.
The first is when the R.A. Hubbard All-State lineman hears that his head coach Mac Hampton called him a “real-life comedian.”
“We have a lot of funny people around here,” McCoy said. “It’s never dull. When we get in the locker room and turn the music on, there’s a lot of freestyle rapping. It’s a good time for everybody.”
McCoy said his favorite comedian is Kevin Hart.
"That's a funny man," McCoy said.
The second thing that makes McCoy smile is when he is asked about his team's prospects for this season. McCoy likes what he sees from the Chiefs and has high expectations.
“We were a good team last year and I don’t think we will surprise anybody this season,” McCoy said. “Winning eight games and making the playoffs last year was just the start. This season will be even better. We really don’t talk much about it. We’ll let our play do the talking.”
The Chiefs had a playoff run of 32 out of 33 years from 1982-2014 that included five state championships. From 2015-2017 the program went through three losing seasons and no playoffs.
Last season was a turnaround with the Chiefs finishing second in Class 1A, Region 7. It ended with a disappointing home loss to Winterboro, 28-14, in the first round of the playoffs.
“It was the first time in the playoffs for everybody on the team,” McCoy said. “I think we let the jitters get to us that night. We won’t let that happen this year.”
The key to the Chiefs’ success this season will be a group of linemen that can dominate on both sides of the ball. McCoy (5-foot-10, 290 pounds, Sr.) is the leader of the group.
“Ca’ni is a great leader and an intense competitor,” Hampton said. “He loves playing football. I can always count on him to make big plays.”
McCoy made a lot of big plays last season. He had eight sacks, 27 tackles for losses, 63 solo tackles and 36 assists. That's a prescription for All-State honors.
McCoy is joined in the defensive front by Chase Porter (5-11, 285, Sr.) and Montavius Orr (5-10, 285, So.). Orr recently got on the recruiting radar at Alabama with his performance at one of the Crimson Tide's camps this summer.
When the Chiefs are on offense, it is McCoy, Porter, Xavier Horton (6-1, 265, Jr.), Jaheim Crittendon (6-1, 315, Sr.) and one more to be determined doing the blocking up front.
“I don’t think we’re going to be scared of anybody,” McCoy said.
The McCoy name is well known in the football history of Hazlewood and Courtland that now feeds into R.A. Hubbard. Ca’ni is related to many of the great players who got to show their skills in college. He wants to be the next and making All-State seems to have helped. North Alabama, Troy and South Alabama are showing interest.
“All-State is a special honor,” McCoy said. “I feel like I put in the work and did what I needed to do on the field to deserve it.”
The success from last season has also revived the fan base in north Lawrence County.
“I get goose bumps when we play in front of big crowds at home,” McCoy said. “Coach Hampton says there’s no way we can lose when everybody is on your side. We know he’s right.”
McCoy gives Hampton a lot of credit for the turnaround. The Chiefs are a combined 10-11 over Hampton’s first two seasons. Three of those losses were by one point and one loss was by just two points.
“Coach Hampton is like a father figure to all of us,” McCoy said. “He holds us accountable and always talks about preparing us for the future after football. Our respect for him has helped us bond as a team. That should carry us a long way this season.”