Members of the Portageville varsity team, are, front, from left: Julian Nolen, Dion Foster, Daniel Allen, A.V. Banks; middle are, Anfernee Garmon, Robert Anderson, Cody Carpenter, Ian Brown; back are Caleb Gooch, Ben Story, Denzell Simmons, Landon Nolen. Not pictured is Dominique Walker.
Returning are Julian Nolen, Cody Carpenter, Ian Brown, Dion Foster, Anfernee Garmon, Dominique Walker, Robert Anderson, Denzell Simmons and Daniel Allen. Irby's team is all about seniors. He has nine seniors and four juniors.
The jayvee squad will be made up of six freshmen and six sophomores.
"The biggest thing that has happened is our district has added another team. Bloomfield dropped from a Class 3 to a Class 2 and is in our district," said Irby. "This will afford up better opportunities for a successful season. It will put us in a more level playing field," he added.
"In looking at our district now, we may have one of the toughest district in the state. When you have state-ranked teams as Bernie, Hayti, and several other competitive schools just within our district, there is a good chance that one of us may go all the way to state.
"Our district is loaded and really wide open. We hope to be in the mix, but it's really hard to predict this early," said the Bulldog mentor. "Their conference will be very tough as well," he noted.
"We may not have height, but we have good average size boys that will work their heart out," he said. "We have a lot of speed and quickness. We feel like we have good depth this season."
The Bulldogs with 19 wins and six losses last year, anticipates better opportunities this year.
As a 14- year veteran with six years at Portagevile and three as the head coach, Irby will lead his team on their first home game on Tuesday, Dec. 4 against Cooter.
As far as expectations for his young team, as it is for many teams, is to win their conference tournament. "Naturally, the goal is to go to state, but really nothing out of the ordinary," he said.
Coach Irby tries to evaluate where his team is at what areas to work on. "Probably, we will be working on our defense as well as our shooting," Irby said.
Assisting him again is Ron Riddle. In his early days, Riddle played for long-time coach Jim Bidewell during the state championship years in the early 1990's. He knows what is expected of Portageville Bulldogs.
Pictured is the Portageville junior varsity boys basketball team.