News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days: Harrison Central Red Rebels
Always more work to be done at stop number six on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days where the Harrison Central Red Rebels prefer to keep doing what they’ve never done before.
First-year Head Coach Tony Myers now calling the shots and refusing to settle for anything less.
Cornerback/ wide receiver Tre’Von Deans said, “It all started when Coach Myers got announced. New head coach, he started day one. And putting in new everything, new culture, work ethic, just everything. It started at spring. Spring was very tough. He brings that winning culture from Oak Grove and stuff like that so he brought that over, made sure we worked hard from start to the beginning. He was on our butt constantly.”
Coach Myers said, “I guess I’m coming from a winning tradition so in my mind that’s what I expect. I expect these guys to push themselves farther than they’ve ever been, and to be consistent about being in the playoffs and winning in the playoffs.”
Harrison Central is just one year removed from its first-ever playoff win as a 6A team and its first as a program since 1990. Tony Myers was the offensive coordinator on that 2020 squad under the recently retired Casey Cain, now going into his fourth season with the Red Rebels, expecting more of the same as the head coach and then some. Wide Receiver Tri Gaughf said, “He was like, we’re not taking this as a joke. We’re still going to treat this as the same. Get after it every day.”
“Winning that playoff game was big for this program, and I believe these kids took a step in knowing that they can compete with anybody in the state.”
The Red Rebels picked up right where they left off with five straight wins to start the 2021 campaign, but then came the Gulfport rivalry game, a defensive slugfest that saw the visitors escape with a 13-12 win.
In total, Harrison Central lost four of its last five games en route to an overall mark of 6-4, 4-3 in district, but still making the playoffs for the second year in a row, losing at Brandon in the first round. “When we played that Gulfport game, it was the emotions of it. It did drain us a little bit afterwards emotionally, losing it the way we did. We felt like we had that game. We played hard. So, the emphasis this year is to try to calm the emotions down.”
“The mindset is making the playoffs. Obviously going out first round is not the end goal. State championship is. So, losing in the first round, it’s like, dang. But we came back, got in the weight room and we worked on stuff that we were messing up on a lot last year and we just fixed it.”
When the Red Rebels do make mistakes, they just so happen to have one of the best improvisers in the entire state in senior quarterback Christian Turner, now a four-year starter under center, who led the team in both passing and rushing last season with more than 2,400 total yards and 20 total touchdowns. “That’s my guy. That’s QB1. I mean he’s always going to make the right decision. I’m going to roll with it.”
Turner said, “I want to be a true passer. But I mean when things break down, you’ve got to make something happen.”
“It’s easy when you have somebody that’s a playmaker at quarterback because as a play-caller you can call something, he can make you look good as a play-caller. So, I mean Christian, he just is really good at erasing mistakes.”
Red Rebels lost more than a thousand yards and 11 touchdowns on the outside from Isaiah Atkins as well as 143 total tackles from Raymond Collins, both recently graduated.
The good news, Harrison Central brings back all five starters on the offensive line as well as senior defensive tackle Amarion Ware, who is already getting some Division I looks. Ware said, “Losing Raymond was a big loss. But one step back, one step up type of stuff. So, we just had to fill that and we’re just going to go crazy. We’re always the underdogs. But I mean I like it. I like to prove myself. I don’t want nobody to hand me nothing, so they’re just going to have to feel me when they feel me.”
Despite having just a dozen seniors back this season, Harrison Central is sitting pretty with 16 returning starters, eight on each side of the ball.
That is certainly enough ammunition for the Red Rebels to dream big, still in search of a third consecutive playoff appearance for the first time since becoming a 6A school in 2009 and quite possibly the last time as a 6A school. “What we’re trying to accomplish this year as seniors, we’re trying to do something that ain’t never been done. We’re trying to leave a footprint on the school, something that we can build on as we move to 7A.”
“When you go to Harrison Central, it’s never given to us so you’ve got to go get it. Go win it all. Last ride, got to do something big.”
Harrison Central opens up the season with the first game of the Port City Bowl against Oak Grove, where Myers was previously an assistant for 16 years.
Gulfport is hosting this year’s double-header, now starting at 6 p.m. on August 26th from Milner Stadium.
Now it’s time to get to know first year head man Tony Myers a little bit better with some coach’s picks. Favorite all time football player is Barry Sanders and Tony Dungy as far as favorite coach goes. His favorite championship moment, pre-Brady Buccaneers fan, so obviously it’s gotta be that world championship in 2003.