McCants looks to lead Lanett back to the state championship

Published 10:30 am Thursday, February 16, 2023

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Lanett head coach Tay McCants is looking to lead the Panthers back to the state championship after former coach Richard Carter led Lanett to three straight state titles.

McCants led the Panthers to the semifinals last year, but this year is his biggest challenge yet as he’s dealing with a very different roster.

McCants worked his way up to becoming the head coach.

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“I helped coach the JV team in 2015 under coach [Terrance] Price,” McCants said.

“I did such a great job that coach Carter asked me to help out for varsity in the postseason. For the next five years, I helped coach Carter out with the offense. He liked what I brought to the table as far as our scheme. He gave me more responsibilities. He gave me a lot of room to grow, so he prepared me for it. It gave me so much confidence, and that prepared me for moments like this.”

McCants led the Panthers to the state title game in 2019, and it was his first year as head coach.

“We still had some of the pieces we had from the previous year,” McCants said.

“I knew who was going to make it. I had a lot of confidence. I just had to make sure the kids believed in me. They fell behind me and let me lead.”

McCants feels like his biggest challenge so far is leading a team this season with several new faces.

“In my second year, we still had four players from the 2019 state championship run,” McCants said.

“This year, I have a lot of young guys who have been on the big stage. I only have two guys who were on last year’s team. Fifty-five percent of my guys are babies. I have two eighth graders and five ninth graders. We have one tenth grader. We’ve been getting our heads bashed in by bigger schools, but people don’t know I’m playing babies right now. This is going to prepare us for the future. These guys will be ready after being thrown in the fire this year.”

McCants will prepare his team for a tough match against Sand Rock in Jacksonville.

“It’s about the confidence and trusting people like Jarrious Goodman, Jr. Bynum and Elijah Whitifeld. Those guys have really helped me out. They’ve been great role models, and they push the younger guys. These young guys will keep rolling.”

McCants has goals for himself.

“I want to win a state championship as a head coach,” McCants said.

“I got a taste of it with coach Carter,” McCants said.

“I want one for myself. I want to make sure all my guys get athletic scholarships. We have to keep fighting. We have the formula. We just have to fill it out. Lanett has always been the standard. I think we’re going to make a nice playoff run and be able to bring a state championship to Lanett this year.