New 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days: Long Beach Bearcats

Improvement seems inevitable at stop number two on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 days where Long Beach High School has a new voice in the locker room in the form of first-year Head Coach Jacob Massey.

The Bearcats also have a new motto and that’s WIN standing for ‘what’s important now.’ And right now, there’s nothing more important than out with the old, in with the new.

Running back/ H Back Colt Busby said, “I mean I haven’t won a game at Long Beach, ever. Middle school through high school. I mean I’ve seen one game won, and that was here. And I wasn’t playing. I was an eighth grader.”

Outside linebacker/ defensive end LaZerrick Brooks said, “I’ve won five games at Long Beach ever. So, I think to have the chance to have a winning season and to be in control of that winning season to lead the team to a winning season, that feels amazing.”

Recently, the Long Beach football program has fallen on some hard times with just one winning season in the last ten years, in 2017, and now more than a decade removed from its last playoff victory in 2011. Head Coach Jacob Massey said, “The kids know it, the community knows it, and they’re ready to change it. And they were fed up. And I’m fed up too and I haven’t even been a part of it. So, I’m tired of hearing that. I’m tired of that stigma. Our kids are tired of it. The community is tired of it. And we’re just going to put in the work in, and let the chips fall where they may.”

Nowhere to go but up for the Bearcats under first-time head coach Jacob Massey, who took the job in March in place of recently retired Ryan Ross.

Where other coaches might have seen rebuilding a program on a 23-game district losing streak as an obstacle, Massey sees it as an opportunity. “Him saying that he wanted us to win, and he won’t accept losing at all, that really fired us up.”

“At the end of the day, my goal was to become a head football coach. And I wanted to go somewhere that I could build my own program. I didn’t want to go somewhere that was already established. And another thing is I want our kids’ mentality to be, is we’re not going to shy away from anybody.”

Long Beach doesn’t have much of a choice in the Region 4 Class 5A, possibly home to both the state’s leading passer and rusher this season.

For the Bearcats, playing up to competition starts with not doing things the same way just because they’ve always been done that way.

Massey’s first order of business is making sure the players dressed alike and implanting a nine-week leadership course, culminating with a much-improved effort in the team’s spring game. “We changed everything. We changed the way that we did things. And not saying what they were doing wasn’t the right way, it just wasn’t my way. And I think it’s important for those kids to understand that hey, we’re changing this up because we haven’t had success in a while.”

“Last year, it was a lot of me, me, me type things. Like we’d lose a game and it’d be offense did well or defense did well or I played well, so it was y’all’s fault that we lost, and we weren’t looking at it as we were a team. Maybe if I did better, it might’ve helped someone else out a little bit, and that’s changing this year a lot.”

According to Massey, Colt Busby is the straw that’s going to stir the drink on offense this year, alongside quarterback Will Brady and running back Edjuan Trautman with LaZerrick Brooks serving as the team’s bell cow on defense where the Bearcats appear to be upper-classman heavy in the trenches.

Massey also wants to be multiple on both sides of the ball with a strong focus on special teams.

In total, the Bearcats returned 16 starters and 16 seniors and at the end of the day, it’s up to them to make sure Long Beach goes long. “I’m not going to be able to throw a pass. Coach Foreman is not going to be able to make a tackle. Coach Fortenberry is not going to be able to make an interception. Coach Finley is not going to be able to make a block. So, these kids are the ones that are putting their bodies on the line every single Friday night, and Monday through Thursday at practice, and so I’m going to try to turn over as much of the leadership and ownership of this team to these guys.”

“We’ve all been told a lot that if we’re all going to turn it around it’s going to be my grade and the next grade, so I think we want to leave that behind that we got after it and we turned it around, and I hope following years can keep that going.”

The Bearcats getting an extra morale boost upon the completion of their new turf field which should be ready to go for their August 26th home opener against Pass Christian in the Oyster Bowl at 7 p.m.

Let’s get to know first year Head Coach Jacob Massey a little better, starting with food. One of his favorite Long Beach meals is the chicken tenders from Bull’s Restaurant. His favorite championship moment came a few weeks ago when his Ole Miss Rebels won their first-ever College World Series. A lot of his coaching inspiration comes from books about military leadership.

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