SLOCOMB, Ala. (WDHN) — Last season, nobody saw the Slocomb Red Tops coming.

They hadn’t had a winning season in five years, but that all changed when they went 10-2 and clinched the region title for the first time since 2003.

This year, the narrative is different and the Red Tops are expecting big things.

Last year Slocomb dropped game one to the Geneva Panthers by only 7 points.

The Red Tops would then go on to win out their regular season and their first round playoff game before falling to Trinity in the second round, but last year’s success could pose a challenge this year.

“That really just made this season harder,” Head Coach Richard Tisdale said. “When you’ve kind of been average for a while you can sneak up on people last year and I think we did early and then kind of gain some momentum. This year we’re not sneaking up on anybody. Everybody is ready. They know who we are. They know about our kids.”

A lot of talent returns for the Red Tops this season including running backs Rashawn Miller and Jaylen Nobles, but you can call them thunder and lightning.

Nobles is a three star recruit for the class of 2022 and for Tisdale it’s like having another coach on the field.

“Jaylen has really matured in a way that it’s not about him, it’s about the team and he helps the younger guys and helps his teammates, and it makes everybody else better. Anybody can be a good player, but the great ones make their teammates better. Jaylen has reached a stage where he knows how to make his teammates better, so it’s been really exciting to to raise his level of play and everybody else’s level of play.”

Quarterback Caulin Thomas will be another key playmaker for this Slocomb squad.

“He’s had one of the best offseasons I’ve seen. The jump he’s made from last year to this year, his confidence level has been tremendous, so we’re excited about Caulin as well.”

Tisdale says everybody knows their role on the team and they’re ready to get to work in 2021.

“We just want to be ready to play. Slocomb is a farming community for the most part. Hard working folks and the kids come from hard working homes, so we just kind of want to outwork everybody.”

Slocomb’s game against McKenzie on Friday was cancelled.

Their regular season home opener against Geneva is scheduled for Aug. 27.