News 25’s 25 teams in 25 days: Gulfport Admirals
Wednesday was the first day in shoulder pads for the Gulfport Admirals, stop number 14 on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 days, which means hitting.
The Admirals are probably ready to hit somebody after the way last year turned out.
Free safety Javier Simmons said, “Everybody has their certain people they hang with, some people they be with, and it’s like your best friend. Oh, you against him. So, it’s like you’ve got to be ready like, ah, I’m going against you. You know what I’m saying? It’s like that.”
White jerseys for the offense, blue jerseys for the defense, and the board drill inside a 10-yard circle of adrenaline junkies to see who wants it more. Typical third day of MHSAA practice at Gulfport High School and it just hits different. “I mean it’s kind of just king of the hill. Best guy, best guy wins.”
“I feel like you’ve got to prove yourself. When he calls you up there, everyone is looking up to you.”
Head Coach John Archie said, “Oh, it’s time we separate the men from the boys and see who wants to be out here. It’s going to get a little tough. It’s going to get a little hot. It’s the middle of August. It’s a little warm out here. So, we’re trying to see who wants to be out here. Your adrenaline gets to pumping.”
“I love to hit, in my opinion. I like to hit. The team has been ready, anxious to come out here and show how much better we have it from last season and to show that everybody has been working, everybody has been preparing for this moment to get in pads against other teams, rivals instead of each other.”
Without making it a competition, the Admirals are ready to drop anchor and put the past in the past perhaps more than any program on the Coast. After winning three straight region 4 class 6A titles, they won just one game all year. “As far as a team, I feel like we have a big chip on our shoulder that we have to prove that the season that we had before, it wasn’t us. It wasn’t the real Gulfport High.”
Gulfport technically lost twice on September 25th, by way of the school district pulling the plug on the St. Martin game, instead losing a four-overtime thriller at Brandon.
The Admirals were then quarantined for West Harrison before taking a no contest with Hancock and all of a sudden, their next game is a full three weeks later against their rival undefeated Harrison Central. “The quarantine right in the middle. When we felt like we were making strides at the Brandon game and come back and get hit with a two-week quarantine right after that, that was kind of the low point for us.”
“It’s like we came right back to school and then we played a game. It’s like I’m not going to say we were mentally out of it, but physically, we weren’t there to the point we could’ve been.”
Wide receiver/ quarterback Gavin Brown said, “That was probably the worst because the way they came out with so much energy and just put that many points up on the board, we knew that this year we would have to prove our point that we’re still here and we’re still the team that we were the past years before.”
Gulfport lost to the Red Rebels by 20 and they never won again. Also, lost in the carnage of a 1-9 season, 0-6 in league play was the Admirals’ 23 game district winning streak, spanning from late 2016 all the way through 2019 and if all goes according to plan back like they never left. “Our main thing, we can’t have a season like we had last season.”
“Last year is in the past. We just came out with a chip on our shoulder this year.”
“It puts a lot of fuel in our tank, and want us to go even harder than we was going last year.”
“We’re going back to playing Gulfport football, and we’re going to get back what’s ours. We’re putting the district on notice. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Gulfport still has the swag of a district champion, but the crown currently belongs to D’Iberville. The quest to get it back starts with a 19-member senior class of 2022 bolstered by 15 returning starters, all out to prove they can start a new streak of their own and why stop there? “We want to make it to the State Championship.”
“What’s done is done. We just want to come out this year, try to make it to State.”
“We’re putting in the work, in the weight room, we’re watching film, we’re grinding out here on the field. We want it bad. We want to get to somewhere we haven’t been in a minute, and that’s South State.”
“We’re just ready to get to August 27th.”
Gulfport’s last South State appearance was 1999. The Admirals get the ball rolling on August 27th with a 2019 first round playoff rematch at home against George County as a part of their annual Port City Bowl.