25 Teams in 25 Days: Gautier Gators
Here at News 25, we have the honor of claiming 25 high school football teams from across the six coastal counties as our own.
“25 Teams in 25 Days” is back for a second straight year to kick off the 2019 season. This year, that journey starts at Gautier High School, where the Gators anxiously await the start of the new campaign a month from tomorrow.
Center/Long snapper Madden High said, “We don’t have a Gautier High School football team. We have a Gautier High School football family. That’s something I think people are going to see in the way we play these next few Friday nights.”
There is something about adversity that can bring a team, a family, closer together. For Gautier, it was losing 42-35 two weeks in a row to close out the 2018 regular season. Offensive tackle/ nose guard Malik Pierce said, “Man, last year. That last game. That was inches away from us going back to the playoffs. It hurt us really bad. Like, bad. I’m not over it at all. I want that team again. I want every team that beat us this year, I want them.”
That final loss to Wayne County cost the Gators their first trip back to the postseason since 2014. Now, it’s a ‘bigger the setback, bigger the comeback’ mentality for a team that showed a lot of promise in Region 4 class 5A with an overall record of 6-5. Head Coach Marcus High said, “It was the start of we’re laying the foundation last year. We lost a couple games in the last minute, went to overtime and lost a game and they were critical. And everybody knows our region is a pretty tough region. I don’t think there’s anybody waiting on the doorstep ready to jump into our region. So it’s just getting the kids used to, acclimated to it, and plus, they understand what’s going on more. Year two is no longer a first step, they understand what we’re expecting out of them.”
Linebacker Nick Armstrong said, “Basically, it’s just for us to wake up, really. It’s time for us to realize that we can do this. We can be a top contender in the state of Mississippi so now it’s time for us to show everybody that. We know it, so now it’s time for everybody else to know it.”
A big part of Gautier’s newfound swagger starts with ‘GATE,’ not only short for Gators, but the acronym that drives their 23 seniors to achieve excellence both on and off the field. “Gate. Just open the gate.”
Linebacker/ full back Drake Thorton said, “Gate. Grades, attitude, toughness, effort. It’s the best motto we’ve ever had. And that’s another reason that drives us right there. That’s the code we live by. That is the bonding code that we have here.”
“We definitely want to set a new tone for what Gautier means. In the past years, Gautier, we were kind of brushed off. Nobody thought of us. But now, we want to be known as the Gautier Gators.”
Coach High says the team posted a 3.19 GPA last year. The Gators travel to Vancleave on August 23rd to open up 2019.