Gulfport beats COVID-19 in time for rivalry week

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Gulfport’s last memory of playing a high school football game is a heartbreaking four-overtime loss at Brandon in the month of September.

The Admirals then missed their next two district games due to COVID-19, putting rival Harrison Central right in the crosshairs of their long-awaited return.

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In the meantime, the Red Rebels have been making a case for best team on the Coast, coming in with a perfect mark of 5-0 including blowout district wins over West Harrison, Biloxi, and St. Martin.

Gulfport is technically 0-2 in region 4 class 6A, but still hasn’t lost a district game that’s actually been played since 2016.

But more important than whether or not the 23-game winning streak is still alive is simply finding a way to make the playoffs given the circumstances.

The Admirals lead the all-time series 36-3, but remember Harrison Central is still undefeated, but then again Gulfport had three weeks to scout the Red Rebels.

So either way it goes, both sides are treating this Friday night showdown also the News 25 Game of the Week as a must win. Gulfport Head Football Coach John Archie said, “We’ve been preaching to our kids, this year is going to be a lot of lemons get thrown at us and we’ve got to make lemonade and make the best out of the best situation that we’re put in. We’re going to see what we’re made of. We’ve been out two weeks and we’ve been forced to sit down but right now we’re going to see these two weeks and what all we’ve been trying to prepare for what we’re made for this week. It’s a big game coming up. Our kids are ready to play. It actually couldn’t have happened on a better game. If you can’t get up for this one, you really can’t get up for any of them.”

Harrison Central Head Football Coach Casey Cain said, “You’re not sure that the stuff that they showed on film or are they going to do what they’ve done the last two weeks. Are they going to change offenses or mix things up defensively? You’ve just got to go play football. Being in this district, you can’t never know nothing until the very last week, and usually it’s the last game of the season to where you even know how that goes cause it’s like that every year. So, I’ve learned to not even try, just take it one game at a time and that’s the truth. It’s no coach talk, but that’s the way it’s been.”

Gulfport-Harrison Central kicks off at 7 tomorrow night from Gulfport’s Milner Stadium.

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A native of Pass Christian and a St. Stanislaus alum, Jeff Haeger comes to News 25 from right in our backyard. He most recently spent more than three years working as the sports reporter for WHLT-TV in Hattiesburg, where he provided extensive coverage of his alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, Jeff was a member of the Honors College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. He also wrote for USM's award-winning school newspaper, The Student Printz, where he won first place for Best Sports Story in 2013. Jeff loves to travel, and is excited to get back on the water to reunite with his family. In his spare time you can find Jeff spending time with his friends, and maybe even winning a fantasy football league. For sports stories contact Jeff at jhaeger@wxxv25.com.

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