South State Preview, Part I: Ocean Springs Greyhounds host Brandon in 6A semifinals

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. –There are 24 MHSAA football teams from the six coastal counties. This week, there are only 24 teams in the entire state practicing over Thanksgiving week, and four of them are from right in our backyard.

Starting with Ocean Springs, coming off a first round win over Northwest Rankin and then a second round victory over Oak Grove – the same team that knocked off the Greyhounds in the second round last year.

That 42-25 win is actually the closest game OSHS has played all year, coming into Friday’s match-up against Brandon still undefeated (12-0) with an average margin of victory of more than 28 points per game.

For the Greyhounds, it all starts under center with senior quarterback, Alabama commit and 6A Mr. Football two times running Bray Hubbard, who has more than 2,000 yards passing and 21 touchdowns, to go along with more than 1,600 yards rushing and another 19 scores on the ground.

Ocean Springs is embracing the moment of being in the state semifinals for the first time since 2009.

“When you start the season, you want to be able to be practicing on Thanksgiving. It’s kind of a little bit of a rite of passage I guess,” said Ocean Springs head football coach Blake Pennock. “But obviously, the ultimate goal is to win a state title. Once you get to this close, I mean you want it all.”

“I’m embracing it really just like going into it knowing it could possibly be your last game,” said Ocean Springs senior inside linebacker Keshawn Thomas. “So you’ve got to embrace it with full force and just know anything could happen at this point because like Coach Pennock says, every team from now on, everybody is good. It’s no more slack ball, everybody is good now.”

“We’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done here,” said Hubbard. “Each week, it gets harder and harder and harder. You’re going to have things coming your way that are going to try to stop you but you’ve just got to keep pressing, and that’s one of the big things is you’ve got to keep pressing. I know it’s Thanksgiving break, you’re not in school and so there may be some distractions, but we have a goal in mind and you can’t let something distract you from a goal like a state championship. I mean that’s big. That’s somebody’s goal in high school playing football. That’s like the biggest goal in high school football is to win a state title, but what we’ve got here is something special.”

The Greyhounds roll out the welcome mat for the visiting Bulldogs at 7 p.m. Friday. Brandon’s only loss of the season came at the hands of the same Oak Grove team that Ocean Springs just beat on Friday.

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