It’s time for some real football.
Mississippi high schools have been hard at work since July 31, putting in two weeks worth of practices. Last Friday the teams that weren’t rained out got to see what they’re made of in jamboree action.
Now the season can officially begin in earnest with a full slate of classic games to open the 2017 season.
Along with the start of every new season comes the Sun Herald’s preseason rankings, which are sure to be picked apart by the each fan base.
There’s been plenty of buzz surrounding preseason No. 1 D’Iberville. In its second season under Eric Collins, the Warriors are poised to make noise in 2017. Although D’Iberville (8-4 in 2016) graduated several difference makers in Tyler Barnes, Micah Booker and others, the Warriors return plenty of experience on both sides of the ball.
D’Iberville is in an interesting situation where it returns junior quarterback Michael Kozlowski — who threw for 779 yards and five touchdowns a year ago — and added a dynamic athlete in former Greene County QB Jayden Walley to the mix. Collins said he was going to let the position battle play itself out and was true to his word in Friday’s 16-0 jamboree win over Moss Point, where the Warriors rotated both players.
“Obviously Jayden is a little behind because he wasn’t here last year, but you can just see what a talent he is. We’re excited about him being here,” Collins said. “Koz did a nice job of running the offense because that’s what he does. Both guys bring a lot to the table.”
The Warriors will have an interesting test Friday to open the season as Collins’ crew travels to Class 3A Tylertown. The Chiefs have been a perennial winner, claiming at least 10 wins in seven of their last nine seasons.
The football season officially opens Thursday with the inaugural Coast Kickoff Classic, where Pass Christian hosts Long Beach.
Several classics highlight Friday’s schedule, including the Shrimp Bowl pitting St. Stanislaus at Biloxi and the inaugural Port City Classic at Gulfport, which will open with Harrison Central playing the newly formed Jefferson Davis County Jaguars at 5:30 p.m. Host Gulfport will play George County at 8:15 p.m.
Other Coast rivalry games include Pascagoula visiting Moss Point as new MPHS coach Eugene Harmon hosting former Tigers coach Lewis Sims and his Class 6A Panthers; 4A South State champion Poplarville hosting Picayune; and Ocean Springs visiting Gautier. The only other all-Coast matchups include Pearl River Central traveling to Hancock, where Neil Lollar will make his head coaching debut, and Bay visiting West Harrison.
Several teams are heading out of the region for their opening opponents. Forrest Hill plays at St. Martin; Vancleave travels to Forrest County AHS; Resurrection treks to Perry Central; and newly reclassified 2A school St. Patrick will play Snook Christian Academy in Foley, Alabama.
Christian Collegiate Academy hosts Sharkey Issaquena Academy in the 8-man opener.
Sun Herald Top 10
1. D’Iberville (29)
2. Poplarville (27)
3. Picayune (25)
4. Gulfport (20)
5. East Central (19)
6. Biloxi (14)
7. Resurrection (9)
T8. Harrison Central (7)
T8. St. Martin (7)
10. George County (5)
Receiving votes: Long Beach (2; 3-9); Stone (1; 8-4)