If you watch Lance Mancuso on the sideline during a Bassfield game, he is the picture of stoicism.
He serves as his own offensive coordinator, calling most of the plays, but in general, he lets his assistants do the fussing and cussing (figuratively speaking) during a game.
After a game, he'll calmly address his team, telling them what a good job they did, then talk in calm tones to whatever reporters happen to be present.
So it was a little disconcerting this past Friday night to hear Mancuso talking in excited terms following Bassfield's 17-14 victory over East Marion in the Class 2A South State Championship game.
"You listened to what we talked about at halftime, and because of that, you're going to Jackson!" Mancuso said.
Truth be known, it would have been one of the bigger upsets of the year if the Yellowjackets had not made it to Jackson for the 2A State Championship game.
After all, Bassfield is now 15-0 and was ranked among the state's top 10 teams in the Associated Press Overall poll, a place where 2A teams are as rare as snow in July.
But you could excuse Mancuso his excitement. He's learned over the years that a lot of things can derail a good team short of Jackson, and he was undoubtedly pumped after a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Eagles.
Truth is, Mancuso - like every one of the some 2,500 in attendance at Leslie Peters Field - knew the Yellowjackets dodged a bullet.
East Marion, the defending South State champs, outplayed Bassfield for most of the game, using senior quarterback Deandrey Johnson to pick apart the Yellowjackets with pinpoint passing behind superb protection.
Plus, the Eagles played the kind of rock-rimmed defense they've become famous for over the years. At the time that East Marion took a 14-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Bassfield had amassed just 186 yards of offense and six first downs.
But when it came down to it, Bassfield responded with a 10-play, 80-yard drive behind senior Jomez Applewhite, scoring on Jerome Keys' 4-yard run with 2:12 to play.
Because of that, Bassfield gets to play one more game this year, Friday afternoon against Eupora in the state finals.
Another title run
For Mancuso, this has become familiar territory. This will be the third team he's taken to Jackson in a 15-year career as a head coach.
In 2003, he took a fearsome Seminary squad to the 2A finals, where the Bulldogs savaged Booneville 45-14 to complete a 15-0 season.
In 2009, in his second season at Bassfield, the Yellowjackets played a brilliant second half to defeat Ackerman 27-13 for the school's fourth 2A championship.
For his career, Mancuso is 129-70, with seven seasons in which his teams have won at least 11 games.
It hasn't always been smooth sailing. The fact that he is at Bassfield at all stems from an unfortunate incident in 2008 while he was coaching Poplarville in which a domestic dispute spilled over to the workplace.
As a result, he was forced out of the job there, and Bassfield immediately snapped him up. In the years since, he's put his personal life back together and built a juggernaut in Jefferson Davis County, going 62-12 in five seasons.
Some Internet scuttlebutt now has him in line for this job or that job, but my personal belief is that he knows what he has in the pipeline at Bassfield, and he knows the Yellowjackets have the potential to win multiple championships indefinitely.
But if he does leave, the school that gets him will get a winner, someone who's been tested by adversity and risen to the occasion. Through it all, Lance Mancuso just wins.
Contact Stan Caldwell at 584-3137, or follow him on Twitter at @StanMan1717.