High School Sports

Familiar face takes over Moss Point football

Moss Point coach Willie Brown talks to quarterback Romello Leggins during the first quarter of their game against Pascagoula at War Memorial Stadium in Pascagoula on Aug. 19, 2016.
Moss Point coach Willie Brown talks to quarterback Romello Leggins during the first quarter of their game against Pascagoula at War Memorial Stadium in Pascagoula on Aug. 19, 2016. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

Moss Point High School is entering a new era for its football program.

Willie Brown's last day as head coach and athletic director is this Friday with assistant Eugene Harmon taking over both roles on an interim basis.

Harmon was approved as the new interim head coach and athletic director at Moss Point on June 16.

Brown is leaving the Jackson County program to become the defensive coordinator at Hazlehurst, where he won a Class 3A state title as head coach in 2005. At Hazlehurst, he will work under a former player of his when he was an assistant at Alcorn State – Todd McDaniel.

“It's a family situation where I had to make that move,” Brown said Monday. “Moss Point has been really good to me. I've made some friends in the last three years. Leaving the kids is always the hard part.”

Moss Point made the playoffs in each of Brown's three seasons on the job, but his most memorable moment at the school came in the 2016 season opener when the Tigers upset arch rival Pascagoula 18-13. The win ended a five-game losing streak to the Panthers.

“We've had a lot of ups and downs,” Brown said. “To be able to (beat Pascagoula), that was good for us as a community. It was good for me. It was our Super Bowl at the time.”

Moss Point topped Pascagoula 18-13 in the season opener.

Brown, who has also served as head coach at Lanier, South Pike, Port Gibson and Greenville, had a record of 16-19 during his time at Moss Point. The Tigers had their best season under Brown in 2015, advancing to the third round of the Class 4A playoffs and finishing 7-6.

“I would like to thank Dr. Maggie Griffin for giving me this opportunity to be a coach as well as the board members and also Dr. (Shannon) Vincent. She showed a whole lot of professionalism,” Brown said.

Harmon takes over the job fully understanding how passionate the Moss Point community is about football.

“To me, it's about pride,” Harmon said. “It's about bringing the community back together and getting everybody involved with the football team.”

Harmon will be working with a pair of coordinators who have been on the staff at Moss Point for a while. Derrick Caples will work as the defensive coordinator and Maurice Gowdy will be the offensive coordinator.

Harmon may have an interim tag by his position, but that doesn't faze him one bit.

“If you're in this profession, every year is interim,” Harmon said with a laugh. “Even if you have a 2- or 3-year contract, you know you're on an interim basis regardless.”

Harmon has head coaching experience after serving in the role at Heidelberg from 2005-10. The team had a record of 17-36.

Harmon plans to run an offense that will use the talent at hand.

“We're looking at all the athletes we have and we'll build an offense around what we have available,” Harmon said. “Some years, we can open up things. Some years, we may have to close things up. It depends on the personnel. Our biggest asset is our offensive line and we'll use their strengths.”

Harmon, who played linebacker at Southern Miss from 1992-95, has been on the Moss Point staff since 2011.

He looks back to his time as a player under John Thompson, his defensive coordinator at USM, as a key time in his development as a coach.

“I get a lot of my defensive fronts from John Thompson,” Harmon said. “He taught me a lot about being a defensive coach. I studied him and I built my philosophy off him.”