Virgilio’s return to football a boost for Harrison Central

Harrison Central quarterback Tavis Williams, left, runs the ball against Moss Point on Friday, September 2, 2016, in Harrison County.
Harrison Central quarterback Tavis Williams, left, runs the ball against Moss Point on Friday, September 2, 2016, in Harrison County.

Logan Virgilio chose a bat and glove over a helmet and pads to start his high school career, but Harrison Central coach Casey Cain's efforts to lure him back to football as a senior are paying off for both men.

Virgilio's 65-yard punt return for a touchdown with 11:17 remaining Friday night provided the go-ahead score as Harrison Central topped a tough Moss Point team 21-7.

Virgilio played football from the age of 8 to the eighth grade, but the quick infielder decided baseball was his sport as a freshman in high school.

"I begged him for weeks and weeks and weeks," Cain said of his pursuit of Virgilio. "I kind of built a relationship with him. I told somebody early on that he's going to be a vital part of our team. What a heck of a punt return. That was the turning point of the game, no doubt.

"I was proud of him. He dodged a few guys. He's an awesome kid, unbelievable kid. He deserves everything he gets."

Virgilio, who also had a pair of receptions for 34 yards, had plenty of green grass in front of him when he caught the ball on the punt.

"It was right up the middle," he said. "I just had to follow the blocks."

What does Virgilio think now of his decision to give football another try in his last year of high school?

"Honestly, I wish I would have stuck with it a little bit," he said. "It's great. I'm glad I'm here, glad we're winning. I love this team."

Resurgent Red Rebels

With the Red Rebels sitting at 2-0 after starting 0-3 in 2015, Cain appears to be making all the right moves. Friday's win marked the second consecutive week that they have beaten a team they lost to last year.

Moss Point topped the Red Rebels 31-12 a year ago, but Cain's defense did a much better job of slowing down the Tigers' ground game on Friday.

"We had a different game plan than we had last year," Cain said. "We we real worried because (Omni Wells) and (Tytus Miles) are so explosive. We practiced all week keeping on our keys and focused on getting better. A lot of people put shame on us the week before (in a 53-40 win at McComb). We did everything we could to stop the run and make them throw the football."

Junior running back Keon Moore was the star on offense for Harrison Central Friday night. When he wasn't breaking free for significant runs, Moore was grinding out the tough yardage inside.

Moore finished with 25 carries for 178 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown.

"Keon is a hard runner," Cain said. "We're blessed to have him and (quarterback Tavis Williams.) Keon will get you those hard yards. He's a physical running back and that's what he loves. We'll give that rock to him every ball game."

Harrison Central entered Friday ranked No. 6 in the Sun Herald Top 10, one spot behind Moss Point. With No. 2 Gulfport, No. 3 St. Martin and No. 4 George County all taking losses, the Red Rebels should make a significant jump this week.

Marcel stands out

While Moss Point left Lyman with a loss Friday night, the Tigers' defense put in an impressive performance in a game that was scoreless at the half.

Moss Point senior linebacker Rayshon Marcel has been strong all season, but he may have had his best game yet while battling against a tough Harrison Central offensive line.

"He was a beast," Moss Point coach Willie Brown said. "He's been a beast all year long. He's gained about 20 pounds. He's making plays and he's a good leader."

Marcel finished the game with a whopping 23 tackles, three for lost yardage.

Moss Point (2-1) takes on Greene County and Long Beach the next two weeks before opening region play on Sept. 30 in what should be a heck of a game against East Central, which beat Greene County 55-25 Friday night.

East Central junior running back Tony Brown put up numbers in Friday's game that will be hard to duplicate this season. He ran 36 times for 354 yards and four touchdowns as East Central accounted for a total of 605 yards on the ground.

It again appears that there is no true dominant program on the Coast in 4A, 5A or 6A. We likely won't find out who the class of the Coast is until region play gets underway.