25 Teams in 25 Days

Playmaker turnover won’t slow Biloxi’s climb, coach Bobby Hall says

The Biloxi Indians went from a three-win campaign in 2015 to claiming six victories for the first time since 2012.

So what does Year 3 of the Bobby Hall Era hold for the Indian Nation?

For starters, both the offense and defense will look a bit different. The Indians graduated receiver Tim Jones, who is now at Southern Miss; standout defensive backs Tyler Price and Jiles Bradfield are at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College; former quarterback Tucker Thomas is focusing on baseball; and kicker Kevin Martinez is enrolled at Hinds Community College.

That’s a lot of turnover for a Class 6A program in the midst of a rebuild, but the good news is plenty of underclassmen have seen ample playing time under Hall’s watch so he’s confident his team will continue to progress. But that improvement is not without a few caveats.

“We’re going to be a good enough football team to have a chance every Friday night,” Hall said. “But we’re also very much a blue-collar football team. We have to do things right all the time. We have to cross our T’s and dot our I’s, take care of the ball and do the things that good teams do.”

Offense

Brodie King is back at quarterback to lead an offense that has evolved since Hall arrived on the Coast three years ago from Madison Central. Despite entering each of the last two seasons as the primary backup, King has plenty of experience entering his senior season.

Two years ago, King was thrust into early playing time when Trey Shaffer was injured in Hall’s debut against Long Beach and ended up playing in seven games. Last year, King took over the starting gig midway through the year and helped Biloxi to a 3-1 finish and playoff berth.

“The big thing now is he’s more mature, he’s older and wiser,” Hall said of King, who passed for 493 yards, rushed for 147 yards and accounted for six total touchdowns. “He obviously has the experience because he’s played a lot of games now. He’s just a real manager of the game. He has really good feet and really good speed.

“If he wasn’t our quarterback, he’d start at corner, but we feel very comfortable with him being our quarterback.”

The Indians are particularly bullish on playmakers Kenyatta Harrell and De’Angelo Mayers.

“I don’t think you replace a Tim Jones. I think you fill in and roll on. But really, I love my running back, Kenyatta Harrell, who is only a sophomore. He’ll make a lot of big plays for us,” Hall said. “I also really like De’Angelo Mayers. He was our team MVP and has great big-play ability. We also have several other young guys who as we go and they mature, you’ll see.”

The two combined for 501 yards and three touchdowns rushing last year, while Mayers was Biloxi’s second receiver with 23 catches for 267 yards and three scores.

“If we can get the ball in their hands every play, they’ll be able to make something happen,” King said.

Three-year starter Alexis Galle helps Hall feel confident about his offensive line.

Defense

Biloxi’s defense should take another step forward in 2017 as the Indians return four of their top five tacklers as well as their top three sack artists.

As a sophomore, D.J. Smith led the Indians with 138 total tackles and chipped in nine tackles for loss. Rising sophomore Anthony Crouse added 119 tackles and seven tackles for loss, while senior Brandon Walker recorded 83 tackles and nine TFLs. That’s a solid foundation for the Indian defense to work with in 2017.

The defense will once again base out of a 4-2-5 formation, but Hall said the Indians will do a number of things as a collective unit.

With the departures of Bradfield and Price, Hall expects the pressure to be on the defensive front and linebackers to set the tone most Friday nights.

“I think when you lose guys like Tyler Price and Jiles Bradfield, I’ll put them in the same category that I put Tim in on offense. They’re very, very hard to replace,” Hall said.

“That being said, I think our Level 1 defenders with Noah Griffith and those guys, I think we’ll be considerably better there. I think our Level 2 guys, even though we’re probably going to start three sophomores and a senior, all of them played last year. I think our Level 1 and 2 will be better; I think our Level 3 will be fine. I just think it’s hard to replace guys as good as those two.”

Noah Griffith will be the leader up front. As a junior he recorded 77 tackles, nine tackles for loss and four sacks.

Special teams don’t always demand a lot of attention, but Biloxi’s should. The Indians graduated Martinez, who made 17 of 21 PATs and 8 of 10 field goals, scoring 41 total points. Hall said newcomer Cade Ganey will handle kicking and punting duties. He’s been intrigued by his new special teamer’s practice performances but cautioned that Friday nights under the lights add new challenges. Still, Hall is optimistic about Ganey.

Getting started

The annual Shrimp Bowl will have a new look this year with BHS and Gulfport parting ways. Traditionally a doubleheader featuring the Indians, Admirals and two other opponents, this year Biloxi will host St. Stanislaus on Aug. 18, and Gulfport has created the Port City Bowl with Harrison Central and Jefferson Davis County as the opening act before the Admirals play George County.

The Indians will then travel to East Central before hosting Stone on Sept. 1. BHS will close its non-region schedule at Northshore in Slidell, before hosting D’Iberville in a big rivalry game to kick off 4-6A play.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

Biloxi schedule

Aug. 18: St. Stanislaus

Aug. 25: At East Central

Sept. 1: Stone

Sept. 15: At Northshore (La.)

Sept. 22: D’Iberville

Sept. 29: Harrison Central

Oct. 6: At Ocean Springs

Oct. 13: At St. Martin

Oct. 20: Pascagoula

Oct. 27: At Hancock

Nov. 3: Gulfport

Biloxi roster

1 De’Angelo Mayers

4 Jordan Montgomery

5 Chase Nadolski

6 Riko Carter

7 David Smith

8 Shi Gaskin

9 Kamron Suddeth

10 Brodie King

11 Dajour Brown

12 Keylup Brothern

13 Mondre Stewart

14 Brandon Walker

15 Tyce Monroe

17 Derrion Thomas

18 Charles Walker

19 Decorius Murry

20 Jacob Britton

21 Casey Fayard

22 Anthony Crouse

23 Kenyatta Harrell

24 Dexter Johnson

25 Jaquez Porter

26 Marqui Beverly

27 Sukrani Blakely

30 Nathan Smith

31 Joshua Burris

32 Malcolm Course

33 Kazaivian Robinson

34 Asonti Hall

35 Azavion Reed

36 Gerard Martin

37 Stephan Davis

38 Qua’Darius Parnell

39 Robert Tatum

40 Cade Ganey

42 Gavin Schmidt

44 Steven Beasley

47 Cassell Thompson

48 K-Jai Reed

49 Noah Griffith

50 Zekorius Johnson

51 Jonathan Golden

52 Peyton Parker

54 Joseph King

55 Alexis Galle

56 Moses Feagin

58 Jaden Crouse

59 Jarrod Brady

61 Alex Delgado

62 Tony Le

63 Blarington Ashley

66 Logan Leach

67 Joseph McArdle

71 Ryan Spiers

72 Jastinn Westover

73 Dawson Cox

74 Roberto Mata

75 Michael Culpepper

76 David Raines

77 Evan Ott

78 Markell Smith

80 Mac Smith

81 Amis McMillan

83 Hector Hawes

84 Solomon Kelley

85 Walter Long

89 Christian King

90 Reyes Sauced

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