News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days: Ocean Springs Greyhounds
Last season, Ocean Springs was the first local high school football team to kick off its 2021 campaign with a Thursday night showdown against Clinton.
The Greyhounds also one of the last three local teams standing after one of the best seasons in program history.
First in, last out, once again the end goal at stop number five on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days.
Inside linebacker Keshawn Thomas said, “We can go 11-0 and lose and we still did below average. So, if we don’t win it all, it doesn’t mean nothing to us. Like you said, the standard is the standard.”
Head Coach Blake Pennock said, “I’ll tell you this, and it’s crazy how you do it. You get a region title for the first time in a long time and you go undefeated for the first time in a really long time, and you still have that sense of disappointment, right? And that’s kind of what you want. You want everybody to understand and be happy about what you did and what accomplished, but not missing the ultimate goal.”
Losing the last game of the season always comes with a but, but that’s not to say the Greyhounds aren’t proud of going 11-1 because they are and it all started with an instant classic 45-44 victory over Head Coach Blake Pennock’s former team in what was widely considered to be a top 10 match-up in the state. Quarterback Bray Hubbard said, “Beating Clinton that game in double overtime kind of showed like, hey, we’ve got something going here. I mean we knew we had something going, but that really boosted it to know that like, look, we just went into double overtime with a team that’s really, really good, so that kind of built our confidence and set the tone for how we were going to go about our season.”
In the weeks that followed, Ocean Springs completed one of the most dominant runs of all-time, winning the next ten games by an average margin of more than 31 points en route to the school’s first undefeated regular season in 43 years followed by its first playoff win in seven years over Pearl. Wide receiver J.P. Coulter said, “We were on top, 11-0. We were undefeated. We were rolling, blowing teams out left and right, just nobody couldn’t really compete with us down here.”
Introducing the Oak Grove Warriors, at the time the reigning 6A state champs, but the Greyhounds rising to the occasion with a 21-14 halftime lead. Keep in mind though, most of their games normally over after two quarters and they played like it, failing to score a single second half point in that 28-21 defeat, their first one-possession game since week one. “To win big games like that, you’ve got to finish on both sides of the ball.”
“We’ve got it on the board in Coach Green’s office. We look at it every day. We can’t forget about that. We’re going to always remember that game.”
“When you’re trying to be the best in the state of Mississippi at something, there are no days off. There isn’t – having your foot on the line does matter. Doing the little things right does matter. And those things will show up in games like that, which they did.”
“We were upset about it, but then again, the game is over with now. It’s in the past. We can’t go back and redo it, so it’s like, let’s go build on the future and let’s get better, get in the lab and let’s go to work.”
Lab coats on at the ready, Ocean Springs led by 23 seniors and seven returning starters on both sides of the ball. On offense, senior quarterback Bray Hubbard is a nightmare for the opposition and so is his top target J.P. Coulter. “Standards are high. I love high standards. I like good coaches. I like to be coached.”
“Me and him know now to where, alright, he can overthrow me and I’ll go get it, and I know if I don’t get it, shoot, he’s going to pop one. He’s going to take it.”
Hubbard is coming off a 52-touchdown season, 30 passing and 22 rushing, in which he accounted for more than 3,300 total yards.
The former News 25 Student Athlete of the Week won Mr. Football for Class 6A and earlier this month, committed to play safety for Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. “I don’t even really talk about it much because that’s after high school. That’s something I’ve got to do after high school. My mind right now is making a run with the guys. I mean this will be the last time I’ll be able to play with them, so I’ve got to make the best of it. I’ve got to put that to the side and wait on that to happen another time and just be ready with my guys.”
“He has the ultimate ability. He has the ability to do a lot of different things and to impact the game in a ton of ways that some people just can’t, and so the challenge for him is to make those guys or to get those guys to follow him and to go into battle and do whatever they can because they know that Bray will take care of it.”
Fighting for equal respect, senior inside line Keshawn Thomas says the defense has a big chip on its shoulder just like the rest of the program. What was once a sleeping giant, according to Coach Pennock, now a categorically woke monster, ready to defend its first district title since 2014 and beyond. “That’s the biggest thing is we want to be the team that’s made it all the way.”
“Everybody knows what it is, like it’s our last ride. So, I think we’re all just trying to get a ring for real.”
“There’s always a sense of urgency, and that’s kind of the one thing that when I came to this program, just kind of flipped the script a little bit around it, and every day is an important day. We’re kind of trying to take the bull by the horns. And the Coast school’s kind of have a reputation and all that stuff and we’re trying to bust any of that kind of thing and just be top contenders, teams and a program that you can expect to compete for a state title every year.”
Just like last season, the Greyhounds open up the new campaign with some Thursday night lights this time, hitting the road to take on the Clinton Arrows on August 25th.
Let’s get to know Head Coach Blake Pennock a little better, favorite Ocean Springs meal, he couldn’t pick one, Murky Waters, Glory Bound, and then the Lady May.
Favorite championship moment, Ole Miss winning its first-ever College World Series title, one month ago today, and on a personal note, Clinton High School winning the 2016 state crown when he was on staff, and still to this day his favorite play call is Empty Ringo 34 Bob, AKA give it to Cam Akers, now running back with the Los Angeles Rams.