Although Moss Point may be the last stop of News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days, the reigning district champion is certainly not the least.
Coming off their eighth straight trip to the playoffs, the Tigers, led by one of the most explosive offenses in all of South Mississippi, are looking to achieve even more this offseason.
Quarterback Deuce Lee II said, “A lot of the old heads, they don’t let us forget that we haven’t won in a long time. They don’t care nothing about the district championship. They don’t care nothing about that. They want state. So they all come back saying hey man, you haven’t done anything yet. All them offers don’t mean anything. You’ve got to go get that gold ball.”
Football isn’t played with the past, but the Moss Point program sure is built on it. Five state championships, the most of any school on the Gulf Coast, starting in 1983 then 91, back to back in 96-97, and finally 2000, but that was 20 years ago. Head Coach W. Eugene Harmon said, “Each state championship got their team picture up on the wall in the weight room, and since day one I walked in there and I was like dang, that’s an empty spot waiting on us to come in and put our team picture up there.”
That spot stayed empty in 2019 despite Moss Point’s run back to the post-season for the eighth year in a row on the back of winning its first district title since 2009. The Tigers would go on to win their first playoff game since 2015 in the form of a 24-23 nail biter over Stone. Defensive Back/ Wide Receiver Jadden Matthews said, “I just remember that it was a close game, and we were battling all night and we came up with the ‘W’ and we were excited to go to the playoffs round two.”
“I just remember running out onto the field on that last play like man, we got one. We got one. Everybody in the stands was going crazy. The sidelines were going crazy. I just remember thinking, we got one. The locker room just turned up afterwards, just up in there with your brothers having the best time of your life and I’m ready to feel that feeling again.”
That feeling was short-lived by virtue of a seven point loss at Newton County the following week. Overall, the Tigers finished just 4-7 although four of those losses did come against 5 and 6A schools in the non-district portion of the schedule. “I just believe in tough competition. Coming from Southern Miss, we always believed in playing Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime. Now that mentality has always stuck with me. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We’ve still got to go out there and compete.”
Moss Point was unable to avenge one of those losses in last week’s jamboree at rival Pascagoula also the 82nd rendition of the Battle of the Cats ending in a 10-6 halftime defeat. WR Larry Simmons said, “Yeah, it was kind of weird because we only got to play two quarters, so it was kind of weird. But they came out on top.”
“Playing two quarters and it was 10-6, we wanted to play the whole game. So it’s like if we ended on 10-6, it’s not a great feeling knowing that we lost to our biggest rival.”
Chances are Friday’s six point showing will be a season-low on the scoreboard as long as senior Quarterback Deuce Lee II and uncommitted four-star wide receiver Larry Simmons have something to say about it.
In fact, the Tigers return two 1,000 yard receivers in Simmons and Trell Millender setting the stage for a weekly fireworks display off Beardslee Lake. “Yeah, we’re going to be able to do a lot on the field. Offense, I know the pass game is going to be there. Everything is going to be there for us, so I feel like we’ve got a lot coming.”
“I know we’re going to be a problem. I know we’re going to be a problem. I mean I don’t want to overhype us either. Knock on wood. But I know we’re going to be a problem. I mean we’ve just got too many weapons. Just too many ways we can hurt you. I know we’re going to be a problem.”
The Tigers certainly aren’t lacking confidence heading into the new campaign and why should they, returning 12 seniors and 16 combined starters on both sides of the ball. Now on the eve of the 2020 high school football season the writing is on the wall. “Any time anybody is screwing up man, we just point at that wall. We just say man, look at that wall man, we’ve got a spot right there. A spot right there with our picture on it, with our name on it. So we’ve got to go out there and dominate every practice. We’ve got to dominate every workout, like we want to go get that spot on the wall.”
The Tigers rescheduled two games and dropped two games as a result of COVID-19. Moss Point will not play Pascagoula or St. Martin this season and have replaced Varnado and Lakeshore out of Louisiana with Gautier at home on September 11th and Stone on the road on September 25th respectively.
Tomorrow at 7 p.m., Moss Point kicks off its season at home game against Ocean Springs.