News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days: Ocean Springs Greyhounds
The grind don’t stop at stop number 12 on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 days and neither does the chase.
Ocean Springs has as much potential as any team on the Gulf Coast, but the Greyhounds still have a long way to go on just the first day of official MHSAA practice.
Head Coach Blake Pennock said, “I mean you hear it and people let you know about it and all that, but like I’ve told many a people – I said, if pre-season rankings won a game, then the Dallas Cowboys would win the Super Bowl every year.”
Not ready to be crowned just yet, Ocean Springs is taking a pass on the first hype train to leave the station. “It’s the first real day of our season. We need to step it up if we’re going to go the distance.”
Quarterback Bray Hubbard said, “Stay focused. We’ve got a lot to prove. Ever since last year, we had a good season with Coach Pennock’s first season last year. The big thing is stay focused. Don’t let all the talk get to us.”
Last month, the Greyhounds were ranked seventh in a class 6A top 10 countdown and returning starting quarterback Bray Hubbard, Southern Miss baseball commit, has a lot to do with that, having both thrown and rushed for over a thousand yards in 2020. “I know personally I’ve gotten a lot better with my passing game.”
Defensive End Keshawn Thomas said, “Most of them thinking Bray can’t throw, Brayson this, Brayson that, he’s a runner. But like I said we’ve been working all summer, so they come into the game thinking all he’s going to do is run, then we’ll throw a big one down the field on them.”
“Well, the biggest thing from Bray’s standpoint is how competitive he is and his competitive nature and how he wants to be the best at everything he does, and so the biggest part of when he’s young is channeling that to the betterment of the team, and I think now with him being a little more mature, a little older, that I think that’s actually going to be a good thing for him.”
Hubbard isn’t the only Greyhound with ties to USM, Coach Pennock is a 2010 graduate, plus two more familiar faces this year in Tracy Lampley and Ocean Springs alum Alan Howze. Lampley being the only Southern Miss player to ever account for more than 1,000 career rush, receiving, kick and punt return yards, and of course, Howze, the heart and soul of the nasty bunch at middle linebacker. “Coach Lamp, experience from college, Southern Miss. Coach Howze, Southern Miss.”
“I think we really have some weapons out wide this year so we wanted to get a little bit more technical and a little bit better out there, and so we made the move to get Tracy Lampley over here and he’s done a phenomenal job. Alan Howze, I mean for us, when I was coaching at Southern Miss, he was an amazing leader, he’s a great linebacker, just a guy that we really wanted and he’s an Ocean Springs guy.”
Howze was a part of the 11-win OS team that played for the 2009 South State title and the Greyhounds are starting to sniff that kind of success once again. Last season, they went 9-3 overall with a region 4 mark of 5-2, but a home loss to Harrison Central in their regular season finale cost them a home playoff game and going scoreless in five red zone trips against Northwest Rankin cost them, well, everything. “Definitely didn’t feel good coming into that last game knowing we had a chance to get that home game. Really, just, it kind of hurt cause I mean you want that home game. We had a really good team last year.”
Linebacker Jacob Williams said, “We don’t want any of those close games. We don’t want anybody to look at us saying, we just snuck through. We want to bust the door down and show everybody what Ocean Springs football is about.”
The grind and the chase, above the line, good to great, all mantras for an Ocean Springs football program that brings back 24 seniors and 15 starters, 10 of 11 on offense.
Even though the Greyhounds are choosing to walk the walk amidst the preseason buzz, as opposed to the alternative, at the end of the day, they’re still ready to bet on themselves. “I say we’re district, and then state. Just high hopes.”
“Still the grind and the chase and still above the line, so we’ve got to prove that. We’ve got to get good to great and we’ll be alright.”
“For a long time, it’s just about getting to the playoffs and let’s go have a good time, make cookies and cupcakes and send us on our way to the bus and all that and it’s a good season, but that’s not the way here. We’re not doing that. That’s not our goal. Our goal is to be at the very top of 6A, and to do that, you’ve got to beat some really, really good programs, and that’s where we’re trying to go to. We’re not there yet, but we know where we need to go. We know what we need to do to get there. It’s just about actually doing it.”
Ocean Springs is a day ahead of schedule, kicking things off on Thursday, August 26th at home against Clinton, who is ranked sixth in that same top 10 poll.