Friday's Harrison Central-Gulfport football duel at Milner Stadium will be for more than the year-long bragging rights in this annual series.
Gulfport (5-2, 3-0 Region 4-6A) will be out to win its fifth straight game and maintain its lead in the region while the visiting Red Rebels (3-5, 2-1) will be trying to insert themselves into the duel for region supremacy.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Admirals coach Eddie Pierce said it is not hard to motivate his team. Gulfport has won five in a row over Harrison Central and leads the overall series 32-5. The two teams have met on the gridiron every season since 1980.
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"It's not hard to get our guys ready for this game," Pierce said. "We don't have to tell them anything. This is for bragging rights for Gulfport.
"Harrison Central has a lot of athletes and Coach (Casey) Cain has put together a good football team. They are big up front and they like to pound you."
Gulfport has a pretty good running attack of its own. Senior Deon Cole (5-foot-11, 205 pounds) has rushed for 1,014 yards and eight touchdowns on 128 carries. Sophomore Larozzo Shugart (5-6, 150) has chipped in 487 yards and seven touchdowns on 46 carries.
"Deon Cole and Larozzo Shugart have done a tremendous job running the football," Pierce said. "Our offensive line has gotten better each week."
When the Admirals go up top, they look to senior Alton Conerly (6-1, 180). Conerly has 18 catches for 552 yards and six touchdowns.
"Alton Conerly is a two-way player for us at cornerback and receiver," Pierce said. "He has done a great job. He catches the ball well and is an all-around player."
And that is a concern for Cain, whose team has played well along the defensive front.
"We have to play better in the secondary," Cain said. "We've given up too many big plays.
"Gulfport is a spread team that likes to run the ball. Then they run play-action and throw the deep ball. I'm impressed with their offense."
Harrison Central has a bunch of big-play performers in wide receiver/defensive back Dee White (5-11, sr.), quarterback Tavis Williams (6-3, jr.) and running backs Keon Moore (5-11, soph.), Walter Carter (6-1, sr.) and Ronald Garvin (5-10, sr.).
Carter amassed back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances against George County (123) and Biloxi (143) while Moore rushed for 113 against Biloxi and 80 against George County. The Red Rebels won both of those 4-6A games.
Williams has been an efficient passer, and tossed four TD passes against George County.