Major changes are coming to the Coast’s opening Friday of the high school football season.
The Shrimp Bowl is shrinking to one game and a new two-game event has been added to the slate.
The Shrimp Bowl will now consist of a single contest Aug. 18: St. Stanislaus at Biloxi.
On the same day, the Port City Bowl will be played for the first time at Milner Stadium in Gulfport. Harrison Central will take on Jefferson Davis County High School at 5:30 p.m.. The Gulfport-George County game will follow.
The Shrimp Bowl has been a doubleheader the last six seasons with Biloxi and Gulfport both taking part. The two schools alternated hosting it when it was resurrected as a kickoff classic in 2011 following a 10-year hiatus.
The games took place at Biloxi last season with the Indians losing 34-10 to St. Stanislaus and Gulfport thumping Long Beach 42-0.
Biloxi broached the idea of turning the Shrimp Bowl into an event that allowed Gulfport and Biloxi to both play home games, and let the two teams swap opponents each year. Gulfport administration preferred to stick with the the same format of the Shrimp Bowl and decided to form a new event.
“We disagreed on the format moving ahead,” Gulfport athletic director Bryan Caldwell said. “We liked what we had been doing the last six years and they wanted to play their game at their home stadium every year.
“It’s a very amicable split.”
Biloxi coach Bobby Hall believes the Shrimp Bowl is simply going back to its roots.
“At the end of the day, Biloxi started the Shrimp Bowl,” he said. “Biloxi is the Shrimp Bowl. I just wanted it to be us.”
The Shrimp Bowl was first played Dec. 7, 1941, and ran as a postseason classic through 1993. Between 1994 and 2000, the Shrimp Bowl alternated between a season-opening event and a postseason contest.
After it was brought back to life in 2011, the Shrimp Bowl was involved with two charitable causes, Gulfport’s Feed My Sheep and the KC Doll and Toy Fund in Biloxi.
It will now benefit the KC Doll and Toy Fund and the Port City Bowl will benefit Feed My Sheep.
Gulfport approached Harrison County School District athletic director Bobby Trosclair about the idea of the Port City Bowl and he quickly got on board.
“We have a two-year commitment and we plan to go further than that,” he said “It’s a good partnership for Harrison County and Gulfport. We have a good relationship. It should go off as a great event for the Coast.”
Harrison Central will serve as the first football opponent of Jefferson Davis County High School, which will open its doors this year following the merger of Class 2A football powerhouse Bassfield and another Class 2A school, Prentiss.
Lance Mancuso, who won five state titles in nine seasons as the Bassfield head coach, will serve as the head football coach and athletic director at Jefferson Davis County High, which will be a Class 3A program.
“We’re really excited about having Jefferson Davis County,” Gulfport’s Caldwell said. “We know the fans in Bassfield travel very well. They have such a great tradition.”
Caldwell said that he hopes to find four or five title sponsors for the Port City Bowl.
Kickoff classics scheduled for Aug. 18:
Shrimp Bowl — St. Stanislaus at Biloxi
Port City Bowl — Harrison Central–Jefferson Davis County, George County–Gulfport (at Milner Stadium)