Over the past few years we’ve become accustomed to seeing the likes of Myles Brennan, Wayne Overman III and LaRaymond Spivery lead their Coast football teams on prolonged scoring drives or quick-strike touchdown dashes. But those three, along with other household names, are now off to the next level.
Only a handful of Coast schools return seasoned players, with more programs than is probably normal giving the reins to untested varsity QBs — a scary thought for any coach.
The changes will provide ample chances for a new group to seize their respective opportunities and possibly create their own lasting legacies.
With that in mind, here’s a list of names to remember heading into the 2017 season:
School: Long Beach
2016 passing stats: 1,943 yards, 16 TDs, 11 INTs
The breakdown: Statistically speaking, Crosby is South Mississippi’s top returning quarterback. The sophomore actually attempted 11 varsity passes as an eighth-grader in 2015 out of necessity for Forrest Williams’ bunch but has shown a live arm plus athleticism at the quarterback position. As a freshman, Crosby completed 58.4 percent of his passes and rushed for another 137 yards and 10 scores while splitting time with transfer Jaidon Evans. While most coaches would love one QB to take a stranglehold on the starting job, both quarterbacks have worked hard this summer to earn the starting nod. Each brings different intangibles to the job. Williams loves Crosby’s “moxie” and familiarity with the offense while Evans has made strides in understanding the system and using his big frame in the run game.
2016 passing stats: 493 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs
The breakdown: Brodie King really came on for the Indians in 2016. Although Tucker Thomas started the year at quarterback, King was a big reason the Indians picked up wins over George County and Hancock. King had a coming out party of sorts against George County completing 13 of 18 passes for a season-high 167 yards and two scores. He also rushed for another 85 yards and a touchdown. The following week, King threw for 162 yards against the Hawks and rushed for two touchdowns in a 27-7 victory. There were still hiccups in King’s emergence, like his three interceptions against Gulfport, but if King can play like he did against GCHS and HHS, the Indians should be just fine at quarterback.
School: Ocean Springs
2016 passing stats: 727 yards, 9 TDs, 5 INTs
The breakdown: Austin Williams was perhaps the biggest safety net on the Coast in 2016. The talented receiver could turn a bubble screen into a 70-yard touchdown on any given play. With Williams now at Mississippi State, Magee will need to show more of what he can do as a dual-threat quarterback. Magee did fine in his QB debut last season after taking over for current MSU pitcher Drew Windham, but he’ll need to improve on his 46.3 percent completion clip, for starters. Magee also showed the ability to tuck the ball and dart up field. He finished second on the Greyhounds with 370 yards and added seven rushing touchdowns. Magee said he holds offers from Nicholls, Jackson State, Southeastern Louisiana and Central Arkansas.
2016 passing stats: 1,195 yards, 12 TDs, 8 INTs
The breakdown: Porter could perhaps be nicknamed Mr. Reliable on this list. The RCS senior has been a calming presence under center for Pascagoula’s talented 1A school. He won’t set any state passing records, but Porter does a good job of managing Resurrection’s offense and hitting his receivers in stride. His 1,195 yards ranked ninth on the Coast last year. He also broke free for 118 yards and two touchdowns. With Patrick Roth and Caden Hinman back at receiver, plus plenty of support at running back, Porter should have another strong showing as a senior.
2016 passing stats: 397 yards, 2 TDs, 6 INTs
The breakdown: As far as pure passers are concerned Wilson probably won’t win any awards, but his overall athleticism at the QB position will rank among South Mississippi’s best in 2017. Wilson formed a formidable backfield duo with running back Vernon Barnes last year and rushed for 852 yards and 11 TDs. If Wilson was asked to do 45 things as a junior last year, he’ll likely be tasked to do 50 this year as Barnes has graduated. Second-year coach Benji Foreman hopes Wilson will be up to the task. The rising senior has already drawn interest from colleges, landing scholarship offers from Arkansas State as a defensive back and Jones County Junior College.
“He’s just a competitor,” Foreman said. “He’s a great kid and competes from beginning to end.”
Here are a couple more names to keep in mind: West Harrison only won one game in 2016, but it’s hard to ignore the numbers Dayln Anderson posted as a sophomore. He finished the year with 1,248 yards and 10 TDs to go along with 272 yards rushing and two more scores but also threw 18 interceptions and completed just 39.2 percent of his passes.
With Cleveland Ford gone — first to Alcorn State and then the junior college route — the Admirals may change up their offense in 2017 with T.Q. Newsome the likely starter. Newsome previously played QB at Long Beach but was primarily used as a running back at GHS in ’16. The Admirals will always have playmakers and should have a number of reliable targets for Newsome, so don’t be surprised if he’s among the Coast’s leaders once November rolls around.