High School Sports

East Central revved up to host Biloxi with title hopes alive in Hurley

D’Iberville-Picayune and Biloxi-East Central take center stage on Prep Talk

Sun Herald Sports writers Patrick Magee and patrick Ochs Preview two of Friday night’s top high school football games. D’Iberville travels to Picayune and Biloxi is on the road at East Central.
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Sun Herald Sports writers Patrick Magee and patrick Ochs Preview two of Friday night’s top high school football games. D’Iberville travels to Picayune and Biloxi is on the road at East Central.

The scene should be electric in Hurley Friday night when Biloxi comes to town.

For the first time in about 25 years, the East Central football program begins the season with legitimate hopes of competing for a state championship.

“There’s a ton of excitement,” fifth-year East Central head coach Seth Smith said. “Biloxi is a really good team with a hall of fame coach (Bobby Hall). The community is excited because we’re returning so many kids. It will be something to watch.”

Friday night’s contest will mark the first time East Central and Biloxi have played since 1998, a game won 28-14 by the Hornets.

All the pieces are in place for East Central after finishing 8-5 last season. Senior quarterback Rylee Brown is surrounded by some of the Coast’s top playmakers, including senior tight end Brad Cumbest (a Mississippi State commit) and one of the nation’s top rushers from a year ago — senior running back Tony Brown.

While East Central sat out the opening week, Biloxi rolls in at 0-1 after being stunned 21-10 by St. Stanislaus in the Shrimp Bowl on Saturday.

Hall has been impressed by what he’s seen out of East Central in preparations.

“With Cumbest, he muddies the water for you defensively,” Hall said. “If you don’t have that guy, then you just wad everybody up there and say let’s get after it. You’ve got to know where Cumbest is at all times. He just goes down the field and they throw it up like a big basketball and he puts his big body on you. He’s a really good football player.”

The 6-foot-6, 243-pound Cumbest caught 30 passes for 575 yards and six touchdowns last season.

While East Central will take the field fresh and ready, Biloxi is a little hobbled after one week. Senior quarterback Brodie King suffered a leg injury that will keep him off the field for at least four weeks, putting the ball in the hands of junior Kamron Suddeth.

Suddeth completed 6-of-14 passes for 37 yards and three interceptions in relief of King last week.

“Kamron deserves an opportunity to go into a game at quarterback with a game plan conducive to his abilities. We did not have that last week,” Hall said. “We had a game plan for (King). We’ll have a different game plan for Kam to go in and be successful.”

Suddeth offers a different skill set compared to King, who is the more athletic option.

“King was a do-everything guy,” Hall said. “Kam is more of a manager and he can throw the ball vertical.”

Hall knows his team is going to have to cut back on mistakes to have a chance on the road.

“We’ve got to keep their big plays to a minimum and we’ve got to be a productive team offensively,” Hall said. “We’ve got to get first downs, shorten the game and get some points. If we can do that, we’re going to have a really good chance to win games.”

While East Central has won games mostly due to its rushing attack on offense the last couple of seasons, it should be improved on the defensive side of the ball. Senior safety Andrew Seward led the Coast in tackles last season with 172, and a talented linebacker duo of senior Cade Miles and junior Avery White is the strength of the front seven.

“This is the fastest defense I’ve had,” Smith said. “Speed allows you to match up with people. If the defense continues to get better, it’s going to be a ton of fun this year. The defensive coaches and players have done a great job up to this point.”

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee

Game plan

Who: Biloxi vs. East Central

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: Hurley

Radio: 1640 AM, 1490 AM

Online: Check out LIVE updates of all the Coast’s football games at SunHerald.com.

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