There’s a lot of storylines for the upcoming 2020 football season. For starters, will there even be a football season? Will it be a shortened season? Will fans be allowed to watch games? What happens if the second spike of coronavirus happens or if a player or coach test positive? These are all valid questions, but to be honest, I don’t really know yet. Your guess is as good as mine at this point. I will say that the Mississippi High School Athletic Association has recently started having meetings to address the various scenarios if needed.
Let’s keep things optimistic on the chance that none of those scenarios happen, and by some miracle, high school football plays like it normally would. Even though I spent last football season shivering and having my boots frozen in mud in the middle of the midwest - yes, that really happened - I still kept up with all the area teams. Of course, I missed an exciting year of football, but I think this is a year that new stars will emerge, and teams could surprise people.
Like in past summers, I’ll start making rounds to each team and write about some of the stories that I usually don’t have time to write about once the season starts.
As of now, my favorite to go back to the state title is Lumberton. Running back/quarterback Robert Henry is back, and the Panthers return almost their entire team. Henry was responsible for over 3,000 yards of offense and over 40 touchdowns.
In 6A, both Petal and Oak Grove will have to reload and find new quarterbacks. They are both teams you can never count out, and the two teams I would peg on having that breakout player of the year.
As expected, Hattiesburg had a rough year after losing its remarkable 2018 class, and still, the Tigers almost managed turned things around midseason. Knowing Hattiesburg coach Tony Vance, he already knows who is offense will be built around. However, the Tigers will have their hands full with a Laurel team that is supposedly going to make a run for South State.
In 4A, I have some high expectations for Purvis, especially if quarterback Hunter Robinson is fully healthy, and based on baseball season, it looks to be the case. Coach Brad Hankins looked to finally have all the pieces come together before Robinson went down. The Tornados return a lot of their talent and should have a serious ground game.
Like Purvis, Sumrall looked to have finally found its quarterback in sophomore John Ford, but after three games, he was out for the season. Many young Bobcats saw a lot of playing time last year, which could prove advantageous in the future.
Forrest County AHS is a team that struggled last year, and it’s hard to say that it could change since most of its key players from last season graduated.
Here is a crazy stat for you, in seven seasons at North Forrest, head coach Anthony Dillon has yet to win the first game of the season. Even in years his program has struggled, his teams are always competitive and its program that no team can overlook. That has made them fun to watch through the years. The Eagles produce always have players playing on both sides of the ball, but in every season, North Forrest has a player that makes plays on both sides. In his sophomore year, Jordan Weathersby Jr. has just under 400 yards of offense while being one of the team’s top tacklers.
For Sacred Heart, the major story is snapping its 11-game losing streak and getting that long-desired win.
Lastly, PCS looks to build on its success from last year and could make a run for the MAIS state title. Running back Marquis Crosby has some eerie similarities to the great Isaiah Woullard after rushing for over 1,400 yards last season.
No matter what, Pine Belt football never disappoints, and I’m pretty excited to look into and tell some of these stories in-depth. For now, let’s keep washing those hands and keep those fingers crossed that football season happens the way we want.