Sumrall and Presbyterian Christian have the same mascot and both coaches have the same last name. Ironically both teams also have had similar starts to the season.
Three weeks ago, PCS couldn’t get its signature run game really going but had its defense keep the Tornados alive.
This past week, Sumrall’s pass-heavy offense fell short as the team’s wide receivers dropped five touchdown catches while its defense played well in its 14-6 loss to Pearl River Central.
“The defense played great,” Sumrall coach Shannon White said. “The offense played great, except we dropped five touchdown passes. We also had three fumbles and a rushing touchdown called with a holding penalty.
“It was just a night of a lot of mistakes. The defense played hard, and the kids played great. We just didn’t execute offensively for sure. We just didn’t play well enough to win. When you have five guys that are open and drop them, you will lose those games every time. We are going to throw it. This is not going to be a trend because we have good players. It was just a tough start for us.”
PCS coach Derek White said that he understands that the scoreboard did not tell Sumrall’s game’s story and knows that they will be facing an explosive offense and tough defense.
“I think it was just that first game, and I think Coach White will figure that out,” Derek said. “They are sold in to being a passing attack and do a good job of doing what they want to do.
“Coach White and them do a fantastic job. They sling it around the yard. Their quarterback does a great job. Defensively they are really good. Their defensive line is the best we’ll play. You get some linebackers that we know they’ll load the box on us and be a real challenge for us.”
In Sumrall’s last game, the Bobcats threw the ball 41 times for 297 yards.
“Most of those receivers have never played in a high school game,” Shannon said. “I think they were nervous, I really do.
“PCS has played a lot of games, and we have to grow up in a hurry and play better than we did last week. This one won’t be close if we don’t play much better.”
At the same time, PCS’ offense ran for over 300 yards with Marquis Crosby running for 231 yards and three touchdowns off 32 carries.
“Crosby rushed for over 2,000 yards as a sophomore and pretty much led his team to a state championship game at Seminary,” Shannon said. “He’s no secret, and we all know him. He is one of the better backs in the state. He is a nice sized kid. He has great vision and is explosive.
“He has a way of breaking tackles and is a violent runner. One guy doesn’t tackle him very often.”
While each coach is aware of each others’ offensive stars and specialties, both are familiar with their defensive stars as well.
While Shannon believes that PCS is filled with Division I athletes, Cameron Shaw has stood out to him. On the season, Shaw has made 20 tackles and three interceptions. In addition, Shannon also believes that his smaller offensive line will have problems facing PCS’.
“They have got a lot of Division I talent on the field,” Shannon said. “That’s what I see. They have several guys that will sign Division I scholarships this year or next year. They are loaded with talent. They have plenty of speed and plenty of talent. They are a dangerous team.
“Both their defensive ends are 300-pounders. Their linebacker, Shaw, is a Division I player. I think their team speed overall is much better than last year. They run a lot of defenses out on you. I think our biggest concern is pounding their guys up front. We are outsized by 70 or 80 pounds in some areas and that’s a concern for pass protection. Some of that is the blitz scheme they use and just the players’ size bringing the rush.”
Much like Shannon, Derek is aware of stud defensive linemen Cole Daniels and that the game’s key will be executing.
“You can’t (just stop him),” Derek said. “The good thing with us is that we feel like our defensive line can at least give us a look. Daniels is a heck of a football player.
“They have other guys that are good, which makes their linebackers come downhill and be aggressive. We’re going to have to run the football, and we have to be sure we don’t turn the ball over.”
For Shannon, he believes that his team will need to execute on offense and win the trenches battle with his linemen.
“When you throw the ball 40 times a night, if you can’t protect, you have no offense,” White said. “If you can’t catch the ball, there is no offense. We’re always concerned, but we feel confident in the structure of our offense.”