25 Teams in 25 Days

Pass Christian takes aim at state playoffs, breakout season

The 2016 Pass Christian football team
The 2016 Pass Christian football team ttisbell@sunherald.com

The Pass Christian Pirates can boast of a lot of experience — and motivation — for the 2016 season.

The Pirates (5-5 in 2015, 2-3 in Region 8-4A) missed out on the 2015 state playoffs on a tiebreaker following a loss in the final regular season game against St. Stanislaus. Now the Pirates are ready for that next step — returning to the state playoffs and making a run at the 4A state title game.

“We use that as a motivator,” Pass Christian coach Casey Wittman said. “We lost out on the tiebreaker. We had only four seniors last year. So we have a team that we feel like can take the next step if we stay healthy. We had a great offseason.”

The Pirates have an explosive running attack, led by 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior running back V.J. Swanier. Swanier rushed for 1,300 yards in 10 games in 2015, including the first two games in which Pass ran the spread before switching to more of a power attack. Junior fullback Nathan Stewart (5-9, 212) is the lead blocker in the attack.

“He kicks off for us, he punts for us, he plays running back and linebacker,” Wittmann said. “He is a great football player. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody.”

Swanier, who has a cousin in former Pirates star Shane Bowser, is looking for a big season.

“My goal is over 1,500 (rushing) yards this year and 2,000 all-purpose yards,” Swanier said. “We have 17 to 18 seniors coming back.”

Swanier said his biggest game came in a 34-14 win over South Jones in McDonald Stadium.

“I had three touchdowns and 200 rushing yards plus 10 tackles or more (at linebacker),” he said. “My best run was on a busted play in the backfield. I grabbed the ball from the quarterback and took it around the edge. I took it to the house (65 yards).”

Junior Gerald Jones (5-7, 165) is expected to start at quarterback. He hurt his knee in the fourth game of the 2015 season, a 28-6 win over West Harrison, and missed the rest of the season. Sophomore Elijah Barnes and freshman Dustin Allison are backup quarterbacks.

The offensive line is made up of junior center Nathan Weatherly (6-0, 210), junior left tackle Travon Frost (6-0, 260), senior left guard Caleb Bush (5-10, 240), senior quick guard Carlin Haley (6-1, 185), senior quick tackle Hezzie Jefferson (6-1, 205) and tight end Jackson Hall (6-4, 230), a transfer from Bay High.

Starting pass receivers are senior wingback/wide receiver Jermaine Dedeaux (6-2, 195) and senior wide receiver Zadarrious Sutton (5-10, 190).

Defensive Pirates

Nine starters are back on defense.

Up front the Pirates show senior noseguard Blain Broussard (5-10, 215), junior tackle Devonte Toles (6-3, 223), either Frost or Hall at the other tackle, sophomore end Tionne Frost (6-2, 215) and three-year senior starter Isaiah Tinson (6-0, 190) at end.

Junior Moses Kennedy (5-10, 185) lines up as one linebacker while Swanier, Stewart and freshman Montrell Alexander will work at the other linebacker slot.

The secondary is made up of senior Dillon Whavers (5-8, 175), senior Landon Wimberley (5-10, 160), senior Dustin Prince (5-10, 1750 and either senior Havierre Alexander (5-7, 160) or senior Justin Brown (5-11, 175).

“We have endless opportunities to win,” said Whavers, whose brother played basketball last year for Pass and whose father, Aaron, played for Bay High. “We have a lot of returning seniors, especially on defense. Last year I have a one-handed pick against West Harrison, and had two punt returns against Resurrection and South Jones that set up big drives for us.”

Tough schedule

The Pirates put together a four-game win streak last year after dropping their first two games against Hancock and Resurrection Catholic. The Pirates beat Bay High and Vancleave for their two region wins, and fell 12-7 to East Central in a region thriller in which the visiting Hornets made a fourth-quarter goal-line stand.

Pass Christian opens the 2015 season at Hancock on Aug. 19 before their home opener on Aug. 26 against Resurrection. The Pirates open their 8-4A campaign on Sept. 30 at home against rival and neighbor Bay High.

At a glance

2015 record: 5-5

Region: 8-4A

Head coach: Casey Wittmann

Assistant coaches: Keith Annulis, Josef Smith, Willie James, Rickey Lewis, Stefen King, Ben Crimm

Offense: Multiple

Defense: Multiple

Pass Christian schedule

Aug. 19 at Hancock

Aug. 26 RESURRECTION CATHOLIC

Sept. 2 at South Jones

Sept. 9 at West Harrison

Sept. 16 WEST LINCOLN

Sept. 23 Open Date

Sept. 30 BAY HIGH

Oct. 7 at East Central

Oct. 14 MOSS POINT

Oct. 21 VANCLEAVE

Oct. 28 at St. Stanislaus

Pass Christian roster

1 Gerald Jones

2 Damonta Toles

3 Dustin Allison

4 Dillon Whavers

5 Jermaine Dedeaux

6 Xavion Paige

7 Elijah Barnes

8 Tionne Frost

9 EJ Belino

10 Nate Stewart

11 Justin Brown

12 VJ Swanier

14 Andrew Moffett

15 Isaiah Tinson

16 Zadarrious Sutton

17 Jordan Langham

18 Jackson Hall

20 Landon Wimberley

21 CJ Pritchett

22 Huu Nguyen

24 Dustin Prince

26 Josh Martin

27 Devonte Toles

32 Michael Carlson

33 Joshua Tinson

34 Montrell Alexander

37 Titus Schwartz

38 Matthew Stubbs

40 Darell Mays

42 Havierre Alexander

44 Blain Broussard

45 Tim Preston

46 Gordon Ward

47 Moses Kennedy

50 Steven Labat

51 Reese Gorman

52 Kenneth Nguyen

55 Chase Pressley

56 Nathan Weatherly

57 Webb Davis

58 Gerald Campbell

60 Quincy Cameron

62 Devin Scandurro

64 Carlin Haley

65 Matt Ashby

66 Chance Diaz

67 Caleb Bush

68 Branden Vedder

70 Jabriel Alexander

72 Jaleel Jones

75 Trevon Frost

77 Jordan Drake

78 Hezzie Jefferson

79 Colton Jeanfreau

80 Devin Johnson

82 Bryce Ladner

85 Gage Scruggs

88 Reis Baughman

90 Jamauri Sutton

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