NOTE: This is Part 3 in a five-part series highlighting Pearl River's Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — It's interesting to think about what could have been had things not worked out exactly as they did for Matt Lott. There was a time when the Stone High product thought his playing career might be over. Instead, Lott went on to star along Pearl River's offensive line in 2003-04 and by the time he signed with Baylor he had earned titles such as State Champion, National Champion and All-American.
Lott will be honored as one of the five members of the Pearl River Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019during Homecoming festivities Oct. 12. Kickoff against Southwest at Dobie Holden Stadium is set for 2 p.m. PRCC had previously attempted to honor Lott but his coaching schedule did not align with the celebration.
"This means a lot to me, especially knowing the among of great players who have come through Pearl River over the years," Lott said. "There's a great tradition and to be thought of in that group is a great honor."
As Lott remembers it, he was unsigned late in the recruiting process. He was left unprotected under previous MACJC "district" regulations and was free to sign anywhere. Head coach Tim Hatten had just been hired and brought coordinator Buddy Stephens along with him to checkout Lott. They liked what they saw and Lott ultimately signed with PRCC over interest from other colleges.
"It's crazy how it goes from maybe being done playing football to what happened next," he said.
Lott's first year the Wildcats won the MACJC State Championship. Despite going 10-1 as a freshman, Lott remembers feeling additionally motivated the season. Under Hatten's guidance, the Wildcats harnessed that frustration and went on to claim its first undefeated season (12-0) since 1969 and defeat Butler (Kansas) 35-14 in the NJCAA Championship Game.
"I think that whole offseason after the 10-1 year we really felt like we had let an opportunity get away from us," Lott said. "That whole offseason, the focus was national championship. We felt like if we didn't win the title we would have underachieved.
"We felt like we had the players and coaches, we just had to get it done."
Following the '04 season, Lott was named All-MACJC and NJCAA All-America plus earned Academic All-America honors.
Following a standout playing career, Lott got back into football as a college coach. He spent seven years at Independence (Kansas) and is in his fourth season at Coahoma. He coached the offensive line for his first three years at CCC and is now the offensive coordinator.
"Pearl River is always going to be special to me because it helped set the course of my life," Lott said. "I never would have gone to Baylor without the athletic scholarship, I met my wife at Baylor. … You wonder what would have happened had I not gone to Pearl River."
PRCC FOOTBALL BROADCASTS
All Pearl River football games are livestreamed at PRCCAthletics.com and PRCCMedia.com. Games will also be broadcast on WRJW 1320 AM, WCJU 1450 AM in Columbia, WCJU 104.9 FM in Prentiss, and both WHSY 950 AM and WHSY 105.9 FM in Hattiesburg.
Individuals who have an Amazon Fire Stick or Roku device can also stream PRCC broadcast by downloading the "Pearl River CC" channel from the app store.