Strong senior class, new field house set up for special '14 season at Pascagoula

pmagee@sunherald.comJuly 1, 2014 

PASCAGOULA -- Lewis Sims describes himself as "giddy" midway through the summer, and there's good reason to understand his upbeat disposition.

The Pascagoula High School football coach wandered through the weight room under War Memorial Stadium Tuesday pointing out underclassmen who appear developed well beyond their age and seniors who are leading the way in summer workouts.

While there's no denying that the Panthers will have plenty of talent this year coming off a 10-2 campaign, the main reason for Sims' wide smile is the new field house under construction in the south end zone of the stadium.

It may or may not be ready for its originally planned completion date of July 31, but that doesn't put a damper on Sims' spirits.

"I haven't been in (the new field house) since the spring," Sims said. "I'm trying to contain my excitement, trying to temper it. I'm like a little kid. I'm plumb giddy.

"I've never experienced this before, just the excitement of the move. It's just the excitement that the kids will have that in the end zone, and will be able to come out of that for our first ball game against Moss Point."

The Panthers will open the 2014 campaign with an Aug. 22 home game against rival Moss Point.

By that time, Pascagoula will have moved into its new digs.

At the moment, the Panthers working out in the quaint and dark weight room located under the stadium's home stands.

In the new field house, the team will have a weight room that's 1,500 square feet larger.

Even though the team hasn't moved into the new field house, workouts have been strong this summer.

Pascagoula has averaged about 50 varsity players during summer workouts and 86 total (seventh grade and up) showed up for last Friday's drills on the Pascagoula beach.

"This is a group that understands what it takes to be successful and lead by example," Sims said. "Our seniors have been in the most workouts this summer. We have seniors in here every day leading the team."

Receiver Jaylen Smith, defensive end Keith Joseph Jr., who is a Mississippi State commit, and defensive tackle Jauan Collins are three senior players who have Division I scholarship offers.

But the talent doesn't stop at three for the Panthers, and there are plenty of underclassmen who should factor in heavily this year.

"I believe our junior class is going to be the deciding factor of how good we really are," Smith said. "We're going to have five or six juniors on defense and maybe five on offense. It's a big class. If they can pull through, that will help out the senior class."

There will be plenty of competition for starting jobs in the fall, but the spotlight will again be at the quarterback position.

Senior Jaylen Glaude, who stands 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, and sophomore Granlund Torjusen will receive plenty of practice snaps at quarterback..

Glaude, a strong-armed lefty, has an edge on the job and will play a major role this season whether he's behind center or not.

Torjusen is described as an accurate passer who has progressed nicely.

"Our expectations are that you are going to have to compete and win the job," Sims said. "That's at every position."

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