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D’Iberville’s plan to ‘wing it’ has opponents nervous

2016 D'Iberville football team.
2016 D'Iberville football team. D'Iberville High School

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.

Special teams

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.”

Getting going

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

Region: 4-6A

Coach: Eric Collins

Assistant coaches: Brandon McGill, Quincy Patrick, Sheldon Black, Jason Hockaday, James Killpack, Josh Ladner

Offense: Wing-T

Defense: 4-2-5

D'Iberville schedule

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

D’Iberville roster

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

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