The Warriors’ new offense has plenty of Coast folks talking.
One opposing coach said he’d rather face anything else.
Another called it one of the greatest offensive schemes God ever created.
New coach Eric Collins brought the Wing-T with him from Pearl River Central, where he was fresh off an 11-win season and had three running backs eclipse 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Collins certainly isn’t claiming the Warriors will approach those numbers right out of the gate, but he’s hoping with time the Warriors will master his run-heavy attack.
“Our task is to get our offense to understand what we’re trying to accomplish, because if it’s complicated for the defense, then it’s hard for the offense to learn what we’re supposed to do versus different scenarios,” Collins said. “Obviously at my past schools, it took a little while to gel. I don’t expect this to be any different but so far so good.”
While some teams may implement a similar set or merely give a Wing-T look, Collins said he executes the Wing-T in its purest form.
In an age when teams are spreading the ball around more and opening up offenses, Collins prefers to keep it “old school,” which in turn leaves teams scrambling to prepare for Friday nights.
“I don’t think (the Wing-T does) anything that throws defenses off. I just think people don’t see it a lot in today’s age when most people are spread,” Collins said. “They’re working against that and seeing that and to get ready for what we do in a week sometimes can be a little tough. All in all it’s a matter of execution anyway so in my book it’s all irrelevant.
“You have to execute, whether the defense knows how to defend it or has a plan to defend it. If you can execute and have good players you’re going to move the ball and have a good offense.”
‘Sky is the limit’
Collins is optimistic his offensive line can help set the tone.
Center-turned-guard Louis Paul Smith will anchor a large offensive line that features two other sophomores in Colton Clark and Ridge Murphy. Seniors Khaalis Baldwin and Sage Pellinen will help provide leadership to the group.
“I’m really excited about our offensive line because really and truthfully the sky is the limit to how good they can be,” Collins said. “As those young guys grow and gel, I think the group can be a special group. I really do.”
The Warriors will feature three running backs this season. Ja’Quavis Foster and Micah Booker are D’Iberville’s top returning rushers, combining for 665 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Kahlil McCray will be added to the mix this season.
“Right now we’re going to hang our hat on Micah Booker,” Collins said. “He’s about 230 pounds and can bring a load at that fullback spot. In our offense, we want to have a physical presence and he’ll for sure be that physical presence.
“And then you have Ja’Quavis Foster at tailback. He complements Booker just fine because he’s more of a shifty, quick guy. And then there’s Khalil McCray, who is also a good complement because he’s a smaller, quick guy.”
D’Iberville is set to turn to junior Jamir Jamison at quarterback. Heading into camp, Collins said he wanted to find a quarterback the other players would rally around. Replacing a standout athlete like Jaquelle Green is difficult, but the Warriors are hoping Jamison has what it takes.
“What separates a high school quarterback, in my opinion, is the confidence that the team has in that guy,” Collins said. “Somebody is going to have to get in and execute the offense with some confidence and I have to look and see if the rest of the team rallied behind that guy.
“That will become apparent through our scrimmages.”
Putting the D in D’Iberville
The unquestioned leader of D’Iberville’s defense should be senior defensive back Tyler Barnes.
The Southern Miss commit has a knack for flying around the field. As a junior, he recorded 72 tackles with three passes defended.
Collins likes to re-tell a story from one of D’Iberville’s early practices in camp where it looked like the offense was going to punch the ball in for a score. Out of nowhere, Barnes crashed in and hit the ball carrier for a 2-yard gain.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Collins said. “He has 4.4 speed, can change directions real well and has great footwork. He’s a very physical type player and when you look around he’s all over the field. That’s the type of thing we’ll need from him to be successful.”
D’Iberville’s secondary will likely be one of the team’s strengths as cornerbacks D.J. Polk and Chris Thompson also return. Thompson led the team with nine passes defended in 2015, while Polk added five more. They combined for 89 tackles as well.
“That’s where the leadership on our team should come from,” Collins said.
D’Iberville’s defensive line should be strong once again in 2016.
Up front, the Warriors project to start Jacob Quave and Chris Clayton on the ends, with Mike McCoy and Delancio Parnell in the middle. The quartet combined for 84 tackles a year ago. Quave, McCoy and Clayton all weigh around 245 pounds, while Parnell anchors the unit at 300 pounds.
“I think our defensive line can be another real strength of our football team,” Collins said. “We’re big across the front and can run, so I look forward to really, really good things from that defensive front.”
The linebackers will be a group in flux a bit as only junior Chad Searight is a returning starter. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound tackle machine tied Barry Leonardi, now at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, for the team lead in tackles a year ago with 107.
Joining him will likely be a collection of Seth Williams, Brennen DaSilva, Marcus Stamp and T.J. Polk.
“There’s a whole slew of guys right there fighting for that spot,” Collins said.
The Warriors may have graduated the meanest punter in all the land in Leonardi, and a reliable kicker in Cory Ladner, but Collins feels confident in newcomer Brady Groce to handle the load.
Collins also bragged on long snapper Richard Landry.
“Richard Landry and Brady Groce is going to be special. (Landry) is a top-notch snapper and (Groce) is, I think, is going to be one of the top kickers in our district,” he said. “I would feel comfortable 45 and in. He has a leg and he’s accurate.”
D’Iberville will kick off the season Aug. 26 against Picayune.
The Warriors also host Pascagoula (Sept. 2) and St. Stanislaus (Sept. 16), and travel to Oak Grove (Sept. 9) before opening Region 4-6A play at home against Biloxi on Sept. 23.
At a glance
2015 record: 6-7
Coach: Eric Collins
Assistant coaches: Brandon McGill, Quincy Patrick, Sheldon Black, Jason Hockaday, James Killpack, Josh Ladner
Aug. 26 PICAYUNE
Sept. 2 PASCAGOULA
Sept. 9 At Oak Grove
Sept. 16 ST. STANISLAUS
Sept. 23 BILOXI
Sept. 30 At Ocean Springs
Oct. 7 At George County
Oct. 14 HANCOCK
Oct. 21 At Gulfport
Oct. 28 At Harrison Central
Nov. 4 ST. MARTIN
1 D.J. Polk
2 Jordan Hartley
3 Ja’Quavis Foster
4 Fred Green
5 Chris Thompson
6 Tyler Barnes
7 Layton Businelle
8 Alejandro Machin
9 Jamir Jamison
10 Brady Groce
11 Marquis Whitley
12 Zhakary Andrews
13 Jay Jasper
14 Ashton McGee
16 Tyree Fudge
17 Erick Thacker
18 Micah Booker
19 Kahlil McCray
20 Richard Landry
21 Chad Searight
22 Thomas Vo
23 Chris Clayton
24 T.J. Polk
25 Devon Dixson
27 Marcus Stamp
28 Tyler Krivanec
30 Herman Hughs
31 Stanley Willie
34 Brennen DaSilva
36 Seth Williams
42 Michael McCoy
43 Jason Quave
45 Nick McCoy
46 Anthony Husley
48 Justin Sandridge
52 Khaalis Baldwin
54 Demetrius Perkins
55 Sebastian Machin
56 Noah Seymour
57 Justin Gonzalez
58 Chase Felsher
59 Jake Thacker
60 Ashton Kopszywa
61 Jullian Patterson
63 John Rooker
66 Louis Paul Smith
67 Derrick Kirton
68 Brandon Knue
70 Ridge Murphy
71 Quincy Brown
72 Sage Pellinen
75 Colton Clark
83 Auryn Strickland
84 Colin Gray
88 Timothy Galloway
98 Delancio Parnell