25 Teams in 25 Days is starting to become a staple here at News 25 as we bring back our award-winning high school football preview series for the third straight year.
Stop number one is Ocean Springs.
When Blake Pennock took the head coaching job at Ocean Springs he had no idea his first opponent would be against a global pandemic and yet here we are just over a month away from the Greyhounds’ season opener. “Yeah, I mean it’s been a trying time. If someone would’ve told me that back in December I would’ve questioned it. I’ve never even heard of a pandemic until now. But we’re just rolling with it, doing the best we can, adjusting on the fly and trying to make due and get ready for a season.”
Starting the season as late as September 4th at Moss Point is certainly better than the alternative of not having a season at all. QB/WR/CB Jak King said, “We were all super excited about it. I mean there probably was a spot in the back of our minds thinking we weren’t going to have it. But to know we start on that day, it’s special.”
QB/WR/CB Bray Hubbard said, “We just got lucky that we can play. I mean things happen in this world and you’ve just got to fight through it. And I’m just very glad we get to play. I don’t know what I would do without football. I mean I’ve been playing since I was little and I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t play football for a year.”
Social distancing on the sidelines, wearing a mask to team meetings, and disinfecting footballs during and after practice are all just a small price to pay in this new world of high school football. “Oh definitely with the mask and definitely the six feet apart and everything but it is different.”
“Everything they’ve listed us to do, we’re trying to do them to the best that we can to make sure we save a season.”
Especially a season with so much promise under this new regime, starting at the top with Coach Pennock who led Pass Christian to its first playoff win in school history as a part of a seven-win turnaround in 2019. Just imagine the possibilities at Ocean Springs. “I said it in my press conference back in December. I said I think it’s a sleeping giant.”
“Some guys are still sleeping. And so we’ve just got to wake them up and I feel like we’ll be well coached on the field if we all get aggressive and stuff.”
That any given Friday mentality has the Greyhounds coming off back-to-back trips to the postseason, but also back-to-back first round exits as well as a losing season in 2019. “Last year we were what, 5-7 I think. We don’t want to do that again. We want to have a winning season.”
“We’re just trying to be great, not good. That’s what he preaches every day and coming out and not be average and just be great every day.”
“We want to try to be great all the time, be consistent and stuff and stop just thinking about the Coast but thinking about your Region 3, thinking about statewide and comparing us to the big picture in 6A rather than just a small focus.”
The Greyhounds are admittedly small in size, but they’ve got plenty enough speed to run their zone read option through either Jak King or Bray Hubbard who continue to battle it out for the starting quarterback job.
They also have a senior class of more than 20 players who simply can’t afford to take this COVID-shortened season for granted. “I think you’ve seen it now since they made that announcement. I know our team is pumped up through the roof. They feel like there’s a goal, there’s an end game in there.”
“I just want to honestly make it past that first round of the playoffs. Our first goal is to win district, make it to playoffs. But I just want to get past, and I think we can make a run.”
All in all Coach Pennock says the Greyhounds are only losing one game against Ridgeland due to the coronavirus pandemic, having already rescheduled Pascagoula to the new week three.