WALDRON — Brock May's first season as an assistant Waldron football coach included a police escort and a lot of pats on the back from people he hardly knew.
Snapping a 43-game losing streak has a way of bringing out the best in people.
"I wasn't a part of the 0-and-43 streak; I can't even imagine how it felt to all the people in the community," May said. "We had people crying after the first win; we had a police escort through town. You would have thought we had won the state championship.
"To me, I knew it was big, and I knew it was special."
May and the Bulldogs begin fall practice in earnest today with a goal of reaching the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.
The son of coaches, May makes a point of stressing his mom, Rachael, a cheer coach, is as much of a coach as his dad, Waldron head coach Ricky May, coaching football was a natural progression for the former Booneville quarterback.
"When I went to college (Henderson State), I knew I wanted to play college football and that's what I was worried about after high school," he said. "It came down to athletic training and coaching. After my first semester, I felt like coaching was the way I wanted to go, because that's pretty much all I ever knew.
"I grew up playing with coaches kids in the field house; my parents didn't have babysitters. I went with dad to football practice."'
It was here where May learned the intricate part of the Bearcats' running game. Ricky May, the former Bearcats' defensive coordinator, was May's coach in eighth grade and one of his assistants in high school.
"I grew up running the offense we run now," he said. "My dad had me out in the yard running the offense in the third grade; it's been drilled into my brain since I was a little kid. If I had a strong suit, I would say it's offense, but at the same time I'm defensive minded, too.
"I know defense wins championships."
In the spring of 2016, a year after May's dad signed on to try and resurrect the moribund Bulldogs' program, May followed his dad to Waldron.
"Luckily, coming out of college, a job just so happened to open up and it was the perfect job," May said. "They were able to hire me last summer."
Even with some talent within the program, getting them to believe in themselves was a challenge.
"You have to have attainable goals, and then you have to measure the progress as you go," May said. "Getting a certain number of kids to practice during the summer, that's one of your challenges. Just trying to get the kids to want to there, that's the first part of it.
"If they're not having fun and not enjoying it, there's no point in showing up."
As more players began to show up, momentum began to shift.
"If you don't want to be there, they're not going to want to be there," May said. "I'm trying to provide a positive family atmosphere. If you can have a positive affect in the community and get kids to graduate, that's doing something.
"If you do all that, the wins will come."
Waldron opened the 2016 season with a 45-0 win over Mansfield. Six weeks into the season they stood at 4-2.
The Bulldogs weren't just winning, they were in the playoff hunt.
"It was great for our program and community to experience winning again," May said. "It's a step in the right direction."
A 2011 Booneville graduate, May lost no fewer than five games during his three seasons with the Bearcats, with three of those coming in the playoffs.
Winning is an attitude. Booneville has had what Waldron seeks for nearly a century.
"I figured it up one day that I lost seven games as a player, from junior high to high school," May said. "To me, I expect to win no matter what; that's how I was raised and how I'm wired. I never go into a game expecting to lose, not even coaching.
"(But) winning the first game, with it being my first year of coaching, that was special."
Now, if they can climb one more hurdle.