Forrest Williams doesn’t really sugarcoat No. 6 Long Beach’s recent struggles. The Bearcats haven’t won more than three games since 2011, and Williams doesn’t shy away from that fact.
When considering the Bearcats’ recent history, Friday night’s 7 p.m. home game against Greene County is an opportunity, not only to earn what’s been an elusive fourth win, but to show actual progress against what has been an upstart opponent in the Wildcats (4-0).
“This is going to be one of the bigger games at Long Beach in a while. We haven’t been good in a long time and this is a chance,” the LBHS coach said before Tuesday’s practice. “As recently as four weeks ago nobody probably would have said there would be seven wins between the two teams, you know? So we’re excited about that prospect.”
Williams and new Greene County head coach Michael King actually go back several years to when the Bearcats’ coach was at St. Stanislaus and King was previously with the Wildcats. Over the years they built a friendship and still talk regularly. Perhaps it was during conversations over the years that their offensive philosophies began to overlap; or maybe it was because of their play-calling backgrounds that their friendship flourished. However it happened, both Williams and King expect to see a “mirror image” when the Wildcat and Bearcat offenses hit the field Friday.
“We have talked and kind of joked around about what we can expect,” said King, who was George County’s offensive coordinator for the last three seasons. “A lot of our offense is very similar. A lot of the stuff we run, they run. There’s a lot of similarities.”
Balance has been crucial in both of their undefeated starts.
In wins over West Lauderdale, George County, Vancleave and Quitman, the Wildcats scored 17.5 points per game, completed 67.7 percent of their passes to seven different receivers and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. The Bearcats (3-0) have scored quite a bit more — LBHS hung 114 points on its first three opponents — but are completing 66.7 percent of their passes to 10 different receivers and average 6.4 yards per carry.
“As long as (quarterback Cade Crosby) stays efficient, I feel like we’re going to be a tough team to stop,” Williams said of his sophomore QB, who has thrown for 602 yards and six touchdowns while also rushing for another 150 yards and a score. “You’re not going to be able to get ahold of (running back) Dennis (Andrews) and stop all four receivers. We’re going to spread the ball around and try to find what you’re going to give up.”
Andrews has emerged as a difference maker for LBHS, rushing for 332 yards and six touchdowns. Charlie Wescovich and Kai Vancourt’s have been go-to targets for Crosby, combining for 27 receptions and 384 yards, but the Bearcat QB has spread the wealth in the red zone, throwing touchdowns to six different players.
As for Greene County, new quarterback Derrick Grice has been key to his team’s early success. After not playing football the last two years, the senior QB hasn’t looked rusty while throwing for 647 yards and rushing for 79 more.
“I’ve been really pleased with his progress,” King said.
King wants to eventually implement a run/pass option offense similar to what Ole Miss did with Chad Kelly but that will have to wait.
When he began pulling double duty in May as he transitioned from Lucedale to Leakesville, King wanted to keep things simple, which nicely accompanied the team’s slogan “Clear mind, fast feet. Cloudy mind, slow feet.”
“I think a lot of it has to do with we really pared down our offense and selected the few essential things we wanted to accomplish. The same thing on defense,” King said. “We’re not real complicated on either side of the ball.”
More to prove
As Williams said during the preseason, going 4-0 before Region 4-5A play opens next week would be nice, “but that doesn’t do anything for us to make the 5A playoffs. We are still looking to take that leap.”
A win Friday, however, would still be a good start for the Bearcats as they look to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Who: Greene County at Long Beach
When: 7 p.m. Friday
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