It's time! Football is officially here! The King of Sport is in the building!
It doesn't really matter how you say it but the excitement is at a fervent pitch with the start of football this Friday night. In the area, all four teams are in action with three playing at home.
The Bay High Tigers open their season on the road against the Hurricanes of West Harrison High School.
This is a rematch of the opening game from a year ago which the Hurricanes narrowly won 22-21. The Hurricanes went on to a 2-9 season overall with a 0-7 mark in their 5A division. However, this year West Harrison moves up to Class 6A.
Last year the Tigers finished with a 1-9 overall record and 1-4 mark in Division 8-4A.
On Friday, Bay High went to Lumberton and claimed a 21-6 victory in their jamboree. The jamboree was a controlled two quarters of play for the varsity. The Tigers ran basic offensive plays and the offensive line executed well with three new starters in the mix.
Sam Sheppard scored twice for the Tigers and Noah Cutter scored once while Zach West also ran the ball well.
On defense the Tigers were led by Jordan Calomese and Lavanta Meadows. Sheppard, Cutter and West also played well on defense.
The Hurricanes will be breaking in a new quarterback this year after losing Keith Holloway (30-for-81 for 629 yards, 5 TDs) to graduation.
The Hurricanes do return Llanes Dickerson who rushed 141 times for 705 yards and seven touchdowns last year. He also caught 16 passes for 314 yards and two scores. On defense, West Harrison brings back Brandon McMillan (65 tackles) and Gavin Burch (69 tackles) from a year ago.
The Tigers will counter with returning quarterback Josh Peters who threw for 642 yards and three touchdowns on 52-for-116 passing with seven picks while Sheppard picked up 157 yards on 38 carries in 2018.
On defense, the Tigers return Cutter who had 52 tackles last year and Calomese with 40.
This game could very well be another tight game on the scoreboard; however, wily veteran coach Eric Collins is calling the shots despite this being his first season in Bay St. Louis. And, that could be just enough to sway this one toward the Bay.
The Hancock Hawks open their 2019 season at home on Brett Favre Field at Hawks Stadium against the Pearl River Central Blue Devils Friday evening.
This is a rematch of last year's opener which Hancock won 10-7 en route to a 4-7 overall season and 2-5 region mark.
Hancock lost QB Caleb Garcia to graduation and his 1,536 yards passing with 13 touchdowns. Stepping in to replace Garcia is Sema'j Robertson.
The Hawks also lost other top performers to graduation including RB Blake Comeaux (223 carries for 1,190 yards, 12 TDs), WR Brooks Rayburn (24 catches, 481 yards, 2 TDs) and LB Trenton Ladner (129 tackles).
The Hawks, who did not play a jamboree game last Friday, will counter with RB Sebastian Fausett who had 58 carries for 305 yards and a touchdown along with nine catches for 135 yards and RB Jordan Foushee who recorded 34 carries for 232 yards and four scores and 13 catches for 194 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, the Hawks turn to Colby McGough and Jace Ladner who tallied 46 and 43 tackles, respectively.
This is year two for Jacob Owen as head coach at PRC and the Wing-T offense. The Blue Devils return their quarterback in Cameron Brunson who threw for 514 yards and six touchdowns last year.
PRC is replacing their top gainer on the ground in Kobe Whitehead who rushed for 1,497 yards and 18 touchdowns. Stepping into the limelight toting the mail will be Dietrich Spikes who rushed for 633 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
On defense, the Blue Devils return Clay Spiers who racked up 78 tackles in 2018. This game could also go down to the wire like last year, but another athlete in the backfield for Hancock behind the Hawks' behemoth line anchored by Quinton Fowler and Christian Sapp could spell trouble for PRC.
The Pass Christian Pirates are also breaking in a new head coach at the school on West North Street in Blake Pennock.
Pennock is no stranger to athletes having coached Florida State's Cam Akers at Clinton High School.
The Pirates open the 2019 season at home in McDonald Stadium against the Long Beach Bearcats which is also a rematch of the opener from a year ago which Pass Christian won 34-31 while going 1-9 overall and 0-5 in Division 8-4A.
Last Friday the Pirates traveled to Gautier and tied the Gators 14-14 in their jamboree. Kam White scored on a 30-yard run while Dustin Allison and Andrew Moffett hooked up on a touchdown pass. On defense, Reese Gorman and Aiden Purchner did some good things behind a defensive line that played well as a unit.
The Pirates have their quarterback Dustin Allison returning for his senior season. It will be his fourth year under center. Last year Allison threw for 572 yards and three touchdowns. The Pirates lost Damonta May who is now suiting up for PRCC. Stepping in to fill his production is Huu Nguyen and Gordon Ward.
Ward has the better numbers in 2018 with 233 yards and three touchdowns in 2018.
The Pirates also return their top defender from a year ago in Reese Gorman who had 65 tackles last season.
The Bearcats lost quarterback Cade Crosby to Gulfport along with his 2,167 yards and 23 touchdowns throwing the ball.
On defense, the Bearcats have their top two players returning in JR McFarland (115 tackles) and D'lijah Robinson (109 tackles).
With unknowns at quarterback for Long Beach and Pass Christian having a four-year starter, this game looks to tip the way of the Pirates.
The St. Stanislaus Rock-a-chaws will open the 2019 season at home 'between the walls' on Friday evening against Saint Joseph of Madison, MS. This will mark the first time the two teams have met on the football field and the first time in seven years that the Rocks have opened the season at home.
The Rocks are coming off a 5-6 season that saw them drop their first round playoff game against Northeast Lauderdale 28-12. The Bruins are coming off a 6-7 season in 2018 in which they advanced to the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
Last Friday the Rocks played Gulfport in a jamboree and beat the Admirals 21-7. Max Favre threw for 193 yards on 9-for-11 passing with three touchdowns and one interception.
Favre's scoring aerials went to Bradley Darby (66), Dallas Payne (27) and Lee Negrotto (39). Bramdon Bordelon also rushed for 68 yards on 12 carries. On defense, the Rocks had strong play from the defensive line including Connor Moran, Ryan Tyler, Devin Gaspard, and Hogan Benvenutti while LBs Negrotto, Jaxson Favre, and Thomas Williams also played well.
The Rocks return their quarterback in 2019 in Favre who threw for 1,156 yards and their top receiver in Payne who caught 44 passes for 695 yards and three touchdowns. Bordelon returns as the top tailback with 72 carries for 518 yards and eight scores. He also caught 25 passes for 313 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, Trustin Northington returns as the top tackler with 92 stops a year ago followed by Negrotto with 88 and Benvenutti with 78.
Saint Joseph will be breaking in a new quarterback, running back and receiver on offense but return their top defender in Joe Pearson who recorded 121 tackles in 2018.
The Rocks have the edge on offense and perhaps defense, as well. This one appears to lean towards the Rocks on paper.
The two biggest changes to high school football in Mississippi this season will be a 40-second clock that begins as soon as the umpire spots the ball. This should help speed games up and play into the hands of the tempo teams. And, in the playoffs only, instant replay will be allowed for those schools who wish to implement it.
All games are set for a 7pm kickoff this Friday evening. See you at the game!