St. Patrick football coach Jim Bloomfield expects to see progress as he enters his third season at the helm of the Fighting Irish.
The Irish return some veteran performers in senior quarterback Carson Bishop and senior lineman Ryan Hymel.
The Irish have lost 23 straight varsity games, with their last win coming in the 2014 season finale — an 8-7 victory over Sumrall. On the positive side, the St. Patrick junior high football team went 8-0 last season and those players will add depth to the varsity as they move up in grade.
Bloomfield expected to have 34 to 36 players on the roster for the opening game of the season on Aug. 18 — a road trip to Foley, Alabama, to play Snook Christian Academy, which was playing football for the first time.
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“It’s been a building process — brick by brick, stone by stone, mortar by mortar,” Bloomfield said. “It’s been a slow process — everything from work ethic to commitment to having numbers and getting the schedule right.
“We dropped down from (Class) 3A to 2A. We got out of a killer region that we couldn’t compete in. It will still be tough but we will be competing with schools that are more like us.
“We are going to try to win some ballgames. I’m not putting a number on how many. We feel like if we can stay healthy and get in the best shape we can, we have the size and speed and talent to win some ballgames.”
St. Patrick joins Region 8-2A, which includes North Forrest, Richton, Perry Central and Collins. Bloomfield projects Perry Central (17 returning starters) and Collins as the preseason favorites.
Bishop will direct the offense.
“He’s got a good arm,” Bloomfield said. “He needs to make good decisions and he should be fine. We will run the flexbone offense. We will run everything from power to triple option to midline … and a quick passing game.”
The Irish have some veterans in the middle of that offensive front with right guard/center Hymel (6-foot-4, 280 pounds), left guard Ian Jackson and center James Frazier.
“All three are back up front, and they are good-size kids,” Bloomfield said. “Hopefully, we will get a good push up front and create some big holes for the quarterback and running backs, and make some big plays.”
Dalton Blackwood, Ray Frazier, Sammi Turunen and Logan Petersen are competing for the starting tackle positions and will see playing time.
Robert Starks is back at running back.
“He will be a senior, and is fast and strong,” Bloomfield said. “I expect him to have a great year.”
Britton Tatum will also see some playing time there.
Other running backs in the flexbone are Austin Scheppens and Craig Farmer at one slot, and Ryan Crosby and Jarrett Herron at the other.
Wide receivers are Logan Young and Anthony Schloegel.
“Defensively, the kids will have to play ironman football,” Bloomfield said. “We will have some freshmen who can step up.”
Hymel, Jackson and James Frazier anchor the interior part of the 4-2-5 defense at tackle with Blackwood, Young, Farmer and Frazier at the end positions.
Inside linebackers are Tatum, Austin Scheppens, and Craig Farmer with Herron, Crosby and Starks on the outside.
The secondary includes Herron and Bishop at safety with Schloegel and Tyler Gerretse at corner.
Bloomfield has been in the coaching business for 35 years. He started as the ninth grade football coach at Gautier Junior High School in 1982, and was highly successful as the head coach at Vancleave High School from 1999 to 2014.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs, and win some games,” Bloomfield said. “We would love to have a winning season. Winning is important. The kids haven’t won and don’t know what it tastes like.
“If we can stay away from injuries and turnovers, I feel we can win some ballgames.”
The Irish will have a bye week before before hosting Mount Olive on Sept. 1.
St. Patrick schedule
Aug. 18: at Snook Christian (Foley, Ala.)
Sept. 1: Mount Olive
Sept. 8: Pope John Paul (Slidell, La.)
Sept. 15: at Sacred Heart
Sept. 22: Bogue Chitto
Sept. 29: at North Forrest
Oct. 6: Richton
Oct. 13: at Perry Central
Oct. 20: at Clarkdale
Oct. 27: Collins
St. Patrick roster
2 Chris Collins
7 Conner Holliman
9 Carson Bishop
10 Jarrett Herron
13 Austin Scheppens
14 Tyler Gerretse
15 Adam Ritter
17 Landen Petersen
18 Logan Young
21 Mathew Chouest
22 Britton Tatum
23 Craig Farmer
25 Anthony Schloegel
28 Jadon Turner
29 Ryan Scheppens
34 Dawson Sandridge
35 Presley Harrison
44 Robert Starks
45 Landon Stringer
50 Logan Petersen
51 Chris Guthrie
52 Dalton Blackwood
55 Ray Frazier
57 Sami Turunen
61 Ian Jackson
62 Conner Sutton
63 Aiden Tarrant
65 James Frazier
66 Morgan Owen
68 Keegan Cuevas
71 Tristan Marchioni
75 Ryan Hymel