Boyles returns to Petal

By CAMAL PETRO,

As of July 1, Marcus Boyles is back as the Petal Panthers head football coach.

The Mississippi high school coaching legend announced his retirement from his athletics director and head coach positions in March, but took back the reins last week.

“It’s something where I wasn’t sure what the future held,” Boyles said Tuesday. “(Retiring was) something I thought I wanted to do, but after retiring I came back and I talked with (Petal superintendent) Dr. (Matthew) Dillon. It’s just something that worked out and I appreciate the district giving me the opportunity to rehire and come back and coach.

“When I (retired), I wasn’t sure if it was something that would work out. Thankfully the district hired me back.”

Because of a district rule for recent retirees, Boyles had to wait 90 days to be rehired by Petal, and July 1 marked 94 days since Boyles’ retirement.

“It was really tough not being with the kids, but after 31 years, (retiring) just felt like something I needed to do,” Boyles said.

Not only is Boyles back in coaching, he reassumed his role as Petal’s athletic director, too. Both Boyles and assistant football coach Cory Reynolds will tag-team the athletics director role.

Boyles has coached seven seasons at Petal and he has collected 62 wins to 32 losses during that time. He’s made one trip to the 6A State Championship during his time in Petal, as well as winning three state championships during his time at Taylorsville.

Boyles has a career record of 276-64.

The Panthers return a ton of talent from last season’s squad, as quarterback DeCarlos Nicholson returns to lead the offense. Also, 2,786 of the team’s 2,889 rushing yards and 32 of the team’s 36 rushing touchdowns return. Micah McGown led the offense with 1,219 rushing yards while Rashad Hanford added 951, and both scored 13 touchdowns each. Four of the top five receivers are back, too, but the biggest loss comes on defense. Only five of the Top 10 tacklers, and two of the Top 5, return, but leading tackler Ja’korian Newsome is back after recording 103 tackles.

The Panthers were 6-7 in 2018, but they made the postseason for the 11th straight season. As a four seed, Petal upset No. 1 Gulfport in the first round before falling to rival Oak Grove in the second round.