Fun in the sun: Warriors work hard in summer workouts to defend region title

dmbarber@sunherald.comJuly 7, 2014 

D'IBERVILLE -- Early visitors to D'Iberville High School on Monday morning got to see members of the D'Iberville football team running through the school parking lot, carrying 25-pound medicine balls.

That was just one station of five for the Warriors, who were participating in summer workouts in anticipation of their Aug. 4 start to football practice. Other players were lifting weights, jumping boxes or carrying hand weights, some of the varied activities taking place.

"We've been working hard, putting in a lot of work,'' Warrior junior linebacker/defensive end/fullback Barry Leonardi said. "Our guys have been in the weight room, doing their thing. We want to go into the season prepared and do as well as we did last year and do well in the playoffs.''

Senior wide receiver/defensive back/returner Rod Moore said it's all about backing up your talk.

"It's about dedication in what we do,'' Moore said. "You get up early, showing that you want what you say you want, and working for it so you have a better chance of achieving it. I'm a senior, and not only do we want to come back and win district but we want to get farther with the team we have.''

D'Iberville, the defending Region 4-6A champion, opens its season at home on Aug. 22 against Gautier. The Warriors play in a jamboree against St. Stanislaus on Aug. 15. Five of D'Iberville's first six game are at home.

Head coach Buddy Singleton has his team working out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with 7-on-7 passing drills on either Tuesday or Thursday. Next Monday begins the MHSAA statewide-mandated dead week, then teams resume conditoning until Aug. 4.

One of the incentives to attend the voluntary workouts is the chance to get your name inscribed on the back of your jersey. Singleton said 20 workouts is the magic number for the name.

"I think we've gotten stronger, we've done a lot of cardio along with lifting,'' Singleton said.

Jaquelle Green, Leonardi, and Jaquez Turner are a part of a big junior Warrior class for the upcoming season. Singleton said the senior class -- 12 to 13 -- is smaller than last year's senior class which had 29-30.

"We only have three returning starters on offense and five on defense,'' Singleton said. "But a lot of the guys coming back played a lot.''

Singleton became the Warrior head football coach in 1965 and coached until 1987. After spending time as the Harrison County Athletic Director and St. John football coach, he returned to the D'Iberville helm in 2008. Before he became D'Iberville head coach in 1965, he was an assistant under Tom Ferrill.

"I became a young head coach at (age) 23,'' Singleton said. "We were a small school then. Now last year we beat Gulfport, Biloxi, Hattiesburg and Pascagoula, and the year before Meridian. Back then, we wouldn't have dreamed we'd have played those people.''

D'Iberville went 9-3 a year ago and 6-1 in winning the 4-6A region title. They lost to 5A state champion Picayune and Harrison Central in the regular season, and to Petal in the state playoffs.

There's nothing easy about the Warriors' pre-region schedule -- home games with Gautier, St. Paul's of Mobile, Picayune and Pascagoula and a road trip to West Harrison. Then D'Iberville opens its region schedule at home against Biloxi.

"You have to play good teams or you don't get a schedule,'' Singleton said. "The good competition will help. This is a good football school, always has been.''

Meanwhile, the players know that the season opener is just not that far away.

"It's hard not to think about it,'' Moore said. "It's my senior year.''

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