For those of us who love to take in the gridiron, the last two weeks have been a mild cleansing of the soul to get us ready for the grind of summer as we await the Friday Night Lights to illuminate the fall skies.
The Bay High Tigers and the Pass Christian Pirates both closed out their spring football drills. Each school also broke in a new head coach that is taking the helm of the program in the fall.
Both teams elected to forego a spring game with a different opponent and suit up for an intersquad scrimmage on Saturday.
The Tigers wrapped up their first spring under new head coach Eric Collins. He enters his first season at the helm of the Tigers' program but it is not his first rodeo as a head coach. Collins has 30-plus years of head coaching experience in Mississippi and Louisiana, most recently at d'Iberville High School.
Collins inherits a squad that went 1-9 last year but returns several promising players. Collins commented, "Each and every school is different. The kids here want to win. The administration here is all in on giving the program what it needs to be successful. We have been working very hard since the first day in the weight room. The players are beginning to understand what is required of them on the field, in the weight room and in the school building with academics. When I was at PRC, we did not have a lot of talent but we had a belief that we could win. We have that belief to win here. We are beginning to see the changes our short time together has created."
The Tigers ended spring with a very controlled Blue and White game. The #1-offense ran 10 plays followed by the #1-defense with 10 plays. Then, the two squads had a running clock half game of football managed by referees.
Jordan Calomese, a tight end/defensive end, had a solid spring coming off the edge. Seth Russo, Nathan Fleming, Denim Lombard and Sam Sheppard all had solid springs for the Tigers.
Collins continued, "We saw some good things from some guys over the course of spring and trying to get to know each other. As spring drills come to a close, we enter perhaps the most important portion of the year, summer. This is a time for weight training, conditioning and perfecting our offense and defense. It will be an intense summer full of work preparing for Friday nights beginning in August."
The Tigers will be playing nine games this fall beginning August 23rd with West Harrison.
The Pass Christian Pirates are also coming off a 1-9 campaign in 2018 and are breaking in first-year head coach Blake Pennock.
Pennock previously served as offensive coordinator at Class 6A Clinton High School.
Pennock likes to run an offense that is built off of the zone read option scheme triggered by the quarterback.
Pennock will have an experienced quarterback in three-year starter Dustin Allison. Pennock commented, "Dustim Allison possesses a decent running game and passing game which will be very important to our success on offense. We rely heavily on the quarterback to handle the key duties to determine where the ball will be going. Dustin will have some weapons surrounding him on offense. On defense we want to be both fast and physical."
The Pirates played a controlled scrimmage Red vs White with a running clock on Saturday afternoon with the red team defeating the white team 40-22.
The offense showed a nice mixture of runs and passes. Andrew Moffett and Dylan Necaise each caught touchdown passes. Huu Nguyen showed a more powerful running style than this past year.
Others standing out to Pennock included Sebastian Setzer, Bryson Adams and Reese Gorman.
Pennock added, "Now that we have gotten to know each other, we will increase the intensity this summer perfecting our offensive and defensive installs. So far, we have only input about 60%. We will have some 7-on-7 work in June and July will focus on us. We have to remain healthy throughout the summer and season. If we are able to do that we have a chance to be successful each Friday night."
The Pirates will travel for a jamboree on August 16 against Gaugier and will open up with Long Beach on August 23.
The ritual of Friday Night Under the Lights is just a mere 14 Fridays away. The Hancock Hawks host an spring jamboree with Long Beach and Poplarville tomorrow at 4:30pm and St. Stanislaus will conclude their spring drills on Friday at 4:30pm.
Can we wait till August 16th when jamborees hit the scene in full force? Time will tell for those itching to get back out the turf. Stay tuned!