Sports

St. Martin, Gulfport set to collide in 4-6A opener

The St. Martin football team is out to end a couple of streaks for Gulfport Friday night when the Admirals enter Joe Barlow Stadium.

St. Martin seeks its first win over Gulfport since 2003 and also hopes to end the Admirals' run of eight consecutive Region 4-6A victories.

Gulfport ran roughshod over region competition a year ago, including a 28-10 win over the Yellow Jackets at Milner Stadium.

The key story line again this year will be the battle between St. Martin's potent offense and Gulfport's stout defense.

St. Martin is coming off a 62-55 win at East Central last week that included senior quarterback Wayne Overman completing 25 of 38 passes for 341 yards and seven touchdowns. His favorite target, senior Kalem Reddix, caught 15 passes for 218 yards and a whopping six touchdowns.

When Gulfport coach Eddie Pierce sat down to watch film of St. Martin, Overman and Reddix jumped off the screen.

“I think they've got some great skill guys,” Pierce said. “We'll have to be ready to play those two guys. I'll tell you something, those other three receivers are pretty good players, too. (St. Martin coach Eddie Wayne) Whitehead does a great job and he's got a good football team.”

Reddix has improved his recruiting stock in recent weeks with numbers already exceeding the entire 2015 season. He has 45 catches for 905 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Reddix holds offers from schools like Colorado State, Southern Miss and Tulane. He's recently received interest from Indiana and Miami.

“I really think he's being a lot more physical as a receiver,” Whitehead said of the receiver's improved numbers. “Last year, he caught some quick balls that didn't turn into big gains. He was catching short stuff that would go for 2 or 3 yards. This year, he's catching short stuff and going 10-12 yards. I just think that's him being a lot more physical.”

Defensively strong

When Whitehead picked apart the Gulfport film, he saw much of what made the Admirals so tough on defense in 2015.

“I went back and watched last year's film and they were laying licks all over the field,” Whitehead said. “They do a great job of getting to the ball. That's the same way they're on film this year.”

The Gulfport defense is led by junior linebacker Karlos Dillard, who paces the team with 52 tackles. He is joined in the linebacker corps by senior Peyton Williams, who has 32 tackles.

Both teams have recently experienced two-game losing streaks. St. Martin ended its skid last week against East Central while Gulfport is looking to end its losing streak following a bye week.

For Gulfport, the off week came at just the right time.

“We had people nicked up,” Pierce said. “We used it to get better at what we were doing. We had a good week of practice. I think the guys will be ready to play. We're ready to get back with it and get in region play.”

Boosting offense

While St. Martin has been rolling on offense, Gulfport has had some problems on that side of the ball. The Admirals' scoring production has dropped in each game since winning the season opener 42-0 over Long Beach.

Last time out, Picayune bottled up the Admirals in a 25-7 win for the Maroon Tide.

“We're not sustaining drives offensively,” Pierce said. “We haven't taken the ball and driven down the field one time with the exception of the last drive against Petal. We've worked on it all week and put our kids in a lot of situations. We've been going through full-fledged scrimmages.”

St. Martin is doing what it can to resolve issues on defense after giving up 401 yards rushing to East Central running back Tony Brown a week ago.

The Yellow Jackets have allowed an average of 52.3 points over the last three games.

“There are a lot of things we've got to do better like effort and alignment,” Whitehead said. “Gulfport has got a really good team a lot of athletes. They play real physical.”

Game plan

Who: Gulfport vs. St. Martin

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: St. Martin

Online

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