It may take a bit longer for new Stone High head football coach John Feaster to fully feel at home.
Due to the completion of a massive facility upgrade at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where the Tomcats play their home games, Stone will only play three home games later in the season.
Specifically, Stone will play two “home” games on the road. After playing at Vancleave on Aug. 19 to open the season, Stone will “host” East Central in Hurley on Aug. 26.
Stone will play Forrest County Agricultural High School at St. Patrick on Sept. 2.
“Due to construction at Gulf Coast, we can’t play there until after September 8. The way the schedule falls, we won’t actually play at home until September 23 (against Pearl River Central),” Feaster said. “It’ll be tough, but I’m not going to dwell on it. With four straight road games to start the year, I just tell the kids they have to be road warriors.”
After the PRC game, Stone will host Pascagoula on Sept. 30 and later Long Beach on Oct. 28. The Tomcats otherwise travel to Gautier (Oct. 7), Picayune (Oct. 14), West Harrison (Oct. 21) and Hattiesburg (Nov. 4).
Feaster said once the Tomcats do return to the newly renovated A.L. May Memorial Stadium, it’ll be well worth the wait.
“It’s a great experience for the kids to get a chance to play there. It's a lot nicer than a typical high school stadium,” he said. “They see the facilities going up and they get big eyed about it.
“It looks real nice. I think it's second to none in the state. It looks nicer than a lot of smaller Division I schools. The technology and everything is great. That will no doubt help them with recruiting.”
The 5,000-seat stadium, originally constructed in 1948, is at the tail end of its second renovation project. The three-story athletic complex will include locker rooms, athletic training facilities and group meeting rooms, plus a press box and suites. The project also adds a new concession stand, bookstore, restrooms and 60 chairback seats for fans.
Ready to get started
As for Feaster, he said he’s anxious to kick off his first season as a head coach. He previously spent six seasons as an assistant at Picayune and another four at PRC.
“This is my first time coaching out of Pearl River County,” Feaster said. “It's a little out of my comfort zone, but at the end of the day kids are kids and football is football.”
Practice started Monday across the state.