More than halfway through the high school football regular season, a handful of South Mississippi’s best have already started to separate themselves from the pack for the Sun Herald’s annual Player of the Year honor.
Some may come across as surprises while others are no-brainers.
Here’s a list of Coast players who have positioned themselves for contention with impressive early resumés.
(A disclaimer: This is not an official list and does not represent the Sun Herald’s sport staff as a whole. It’s possible athletes could play their way into contention as the season progresses.)
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RB Terrion Avery (Stone)
Terrion Avery has been the catalyst for No. 7 Stone High’s 4-2 start. While Avery may not have the breakaway speed of others, he has shown he could win a game of tag in a phone booth with some of his jukes. The senior has rushed for at least 123 yards in nine straight games (going back to last season). Avery has already eclipsed last year’s touchdown mark with 14 scores. He’s also just 155 yards shy of eclipsing last year’s yardage of 1,278.
DB Tyler Barnes (D’Iberville)
D’Iberville senior Tyler Barnes is one of the hardest hitters in South Mississippi and has been a leader for the Warriors defense. A Southern Miss commit, Barnes has great closing speed and also does well dropping back into coverage. Barnes leads D’Iberville with 67 tackles and three forced fumbles. He also has recovered a fumble.
RB Austin Bolton (Poplarville)
It’s truly hard to separate Jesse Pernell and Austin Bolton. Last year, the running backs finished with 15 touchdowns apiece and were only a handful of yards apart from one another. This season is much like last year. Pernell has nine touchdowns, compared to Bolton’s seven, the junior (Bolton) has 102 more yards on two more carries for a total of 673 yards. Bolton also has two touchdown receptions and gets an ever so slight edge over his Hornet teammate.
QB Myles Brennan (St. Stanislaus)
The reigning two-time Sun Herald Player of the Year and LSU commit is once again putting on a show. He claimed Mississippi’s career passing mark earlier this year and is six touchdowns shy of another state record. Through six games for No. 2 SSC (5-1), Brennan has thrown for 1,934 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushed for six more scores. What really stands out is Brennan’s zero interceptions and 67.5 completion percentage.
RB Tony Brown (East Central)
The nation’s leading rusher is right here on the Coast. East Central’s star running back has produced video game-type numbers every week and hasn’t been held under 144 yards this season.
Entering the week, Brown has a 133-yard lead on Jonah Barnett of Mount Gilead, Ohio, with 1,923 yards. He has also accounted for 20 rushing scores. At his 274.7-yard clip, Brown could eclipse 3,000 yards by the end of the regular season.
LB Karlos Dillard (Gulfport)
The junior Admirals linebacker is one of the more feared defenders on the Coast and was the preseason pick of several opposing coaches for Region 4-6A Defensive Player of the Year. Dillard hasn’t disappointed, racking up 68 tackles through six games.
RB Reginald Hunter (Pascagoula)
Linebacker Matt Inlow could just as easily land on this list as the Coast’s leading tackler, but the Panthers have turned it up a notch since Hunter’s return from injury. Heading into Friday’s game at West Harrison, No. 8 Goula has won three straight. Hunter rushed for 148 yards against George County, 119 against Long Beach and then 138 at Stone. He also scored twice in all three games. With Hunter back, the Panthers are a different team.
RB Josh Littles (Picayune)
Picayune has had other star running backs but perhaps none as dangerous as Littles. The 5-foot-7 back can find room in the smallest of gaps and then kicks it into hyper drive with his track speed. Littles is averaging 194.2 yards per game for a total of 1,165 with 14 touchdowns. Littles has scored at least one touchdown in every game this year and hasn’t been held under 113 yards. Oh, and he’s also a pretty darn good cornerback to boot.
WR Kalem Reddix (St. Martin)
St. Martin’s go-to receiver is currently second in the nation with 1,221 receiving yards. Whether it’s on a bubble screen or fly pattern, Reddix is a danger to take it to the house whenever he touches the football. Reddix’s 57 receptions rank ninth nationally and his 17 touchdowns are the third-highest total in the country. Formerly committed to Southern Miss, Reddix re-opened his recruitment this summer and tweeted Monday he plans to visit new suitor Miami this weekend.
QB LaRaymond Spivery (George County)
Perhaps to the surprise of most, the Coast’s leading passer isn’t Brennan or St. Martin’s Wayne Overman III, it’s GCHS quarterback LaRaymond Spivery. After leading the Rebels past Gulfport on Friday, Spivery has 2,370 yards passing, 513 rushing and 25 total touchdowns. If the Rebels offense heats up, Spivery could be a serious contender.