‘Different energy:’ First-year coach Zach Golson brings new optimism to MGM


The Mary G. Montgomery football team hasn’t played a game in 2022 but already there seems to be a difference under first-year head coach Zach Golson.

“It’s a totally different energy,” junior quarterback Jared Hollins said. “You can see it. You can feel it. We are all shooting for the same goal – trying to win. I can’t really explain it.”

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The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Hollins is a perfect example of that change.

After playing in Semmes earlier in his high school career, Hollins left and went to George County, Miss. However, with Golson at the helm now, he has returned.

“It would be an understatement to say that it (Hollins’ return) hasn’t been huge,” Golson said at Mobile County Media Days last week. “Jared Hollins, in my humble opinion, will be one of the best quarterbacks on the Gulf Coast this year.”

Golson and the Vikings certainly need players like Hollins to turn around a program that has struggled consistently for two decades. MGM hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2002 and has never won a postseason game. The team went 0-10 a year ago.

However, with a new coaching staff in place and with Class 7A, Region 1 down to just seven teams after rivals Theodore and Murphy dropped to 6A, there is optimism that this could be the year the Vikings at least start an upward trend. In fact, Mobile radio personality Randy Kennedy already has proclaimed it “The Year of the Vikings.”

“There is a lot of excitement,” said Golson, who comes to MGM after offensive coordinator stints at McGill-Toolen and Daphne. “I’ve actually tried to temper it a little bit. But I do want our guys to know anything is possible. It’s a new year. We have a lot of new faces. We are trying to focus on getting better everyday.”

Golson said the Vikings have been able to maintain good participation in the offseason with 115 players in Grades 10-12 working out and 55 freshmen in the weight room. He said one of the keys to a successful Semmes program is keeping the hometown talent at home.

“The talent is here. The kids are here,” he said. “Our youth program played for a championship in every division. Our middle school played for a championship. The kids are here. Now, we’ve got to keep them here for high school as well.”

In an interesting idea designed to do just that, Golson hosted a middle school signing day this spring.

“We wanted to get those guys excited about being a Viking,” he said. “Hopefully, in four years, we will have a different photo of some of those guys signing college scholarships.”

Mary G. Montgomery senior linebacker Colby Gould discusses the upcoming prep football season during Day 1 of Mobile County Media Days on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in Mobile, Ala. (Mike Kittrell | preps@al.com)

Senior linebacker Colby Gould said Golson’s message has resonated with the team.

“He is persistent. He is eager,” Gould said. “He wants to win. We all do.”

While coaching against MGM at McGill and Daphne, Golson has a distinct impression about the Vikings.

“I knew the type of kids who were there,” he said. “They have a toughness and grit that is different. It’s a blue-collar program. They will fight you. Talent comes in cycles in most places. If you blend the right process and the right work ethic, you should have success. I’ve been honestly surprised by the talent level in our junior and senior classes.”

One of those talented players is Troy Flowers, who transferred back to MGM from St. Paul’s. Golson said the team had picked up a pair of launching offensive linemen who didn’t play a year ago. He also likes the tight ends on the roster and said that is something he didn’t consistently have at McGill or Daphne.

“We have some playmakers I feel confident in,” he said.

The Vikings will host Williamson on Aug. 19 in Golson’s first game as head coach. The first 7A, Region 1 game is Sept. 2 at Foley.

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