News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days: Moss Point Tigers

For the third year in a row, Region 8 Class 4A runs through reigning district champion Moss Point, but heading into 2022, the Tigers have a different kind of championship in mind and they have the perfect spot for it at stop number 20 on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days.

Quarterback Ryan Smith said, “A lot of pride, great feeling knowing that you’re doing something great three years in a row, and hopefully a fourth time this year. It’s just a big feeling.”

Defensive end/ tight end Jamarious ‘JB’ Brown said, “Man, we play every down like it’s our last down because we’ve been like first round and second round for three years, and we’re trying to get past that.”

Head Coach W. Eugene Harmon said, “We’ve won three regional championships in a row, but we’re looking for the gold ball now.”

Having more MHSAA state titles than any other school from the six coastal counties earns Moss Point the right to expect its sixth gold ball even if its has been more than two decades since their last one in 2000.  Middle linebacker/ tight end Kaleb ‘K.T.’ Raston said, “We talk about it. But we talk about it to an extent because at the end of the day, we want to remain humble. But we also want to bring back the first gold ball in 22, 23 years. And I feel like if we bring that back to the Coast and then bring it back to Moss Point, it’ll really do some things for us.”

The Tigers are trending in the right direction after last season, posting an overall record of 7-4 and a perfect district mark of 4-0 en route to winning their first playoff game since 2015, a 40-0 home shut out over Northeast Jones.

But a brutal second round draw against at-the-time reigning South State champion Poplarville, leaving Moss Point on the short side of a 10-point second round defeat and all the shoulda, woulda, coulda that comes with it. “The first series of the game when we gave up three 3rd and longs to keep a drive going, and that’s what’s driving the defense right now, just pretty much taking care of those little things. If you take care of those little things – we call it the money down – third down conversions.”

“I think about it a lot. The first two drives, we had them 3rd and 15 and I think a 3rd and 12, and I feel like if we could have gotten that third down, fourth down stop, we possibly could have scored on those two drives. Because if you recall, our quarterback came out the first two plays of the game and we scored the first two drives, so maybe if we could have gotten one more, two more stops, we possibly could have won.”

But what’s done is done and the defense is ready to make every down the money down this season behind the likes of Ole Miss commit Jamarious Brown on the d-line and former News 25 Student Athlete of the Week at the mike Kaleb Raston, two of just four returning starters on that side of the ball and actually the whole team. “It’s a linebackers dream having a dominant defensive end or nose tackle in front of him knowing that he can take two, three guys and then you can have one guy or be free coming through the B gap or the C gap or whatever.”

“Coach just preaches for us to be like family and to be together and to be as one as a unit. It’s just that we’ve got a lot of young guys, and he expects a lot out of all of us.”

Not only a nightmare for the opposing defense, but also playing offense this season, JB, KT, double trouble at the tight-end position led by first-year starting Quarterback Ryan Smith. “Jamarious is the ‘Y.’ But he also plays the ‘H.’ He also plays the running back. He also plays quarterback for us. So, there’s no telling where Jamarious will be lined up.”

“Very explosive. Confident having those two guys, knowing they can block or run routes. They won’t drop the ball much, so it’s great having them on offense.”

“It’s a bit of a mix-up having your two-star players from defense go onto offense. But when it comes to wanting your team to win state, you do what’s best for the team.”

Ten consecutive playoffs appearances, not really a streak that seems to be in jeopardy for the Tigers. That consistency is one of their six C’s: committed consistent competitive cultivation creates champions, a motto starting with this year’s 11-member senior class when they were freshman, now ready to call dibs on something a little more permanent than their three straight district crowns.

In Moss Point, they call it the spot on the wall. “We don’t play football just for the fun now. We’re trying to get up there.”

“We want to fill that spot and we want everybody to know that the class of 2023, we did great things that we haven’t done in such a long time.”

“That spot has been open since I’ve been here, and we’re looking to fill that spot this year. As you can see, it’s there and it’s there for the taking.”

“If we win it, I can have a spot on that wall. Not for next year, this year or whatever. But from 10, 20, 30 years later, and to have my kids or my grandkids to come through and see us here, it’ll really mean a lot.”

Rivalry game for Moss Point to kick off the season as the Tigers travel to Pascagoula on August 26th.

Coaches picks from Coach Harmon, favorite Moss Point meal is Faye’s Kitchen, favorite all-time favorite player goes to Eugene Lockhart. And favorite all-time moment as a player is a strip six for Kosciusko vs. Winona, he took it 98 yards to the house en route to a perfect district record.

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