GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Two schools, separated by just about 12 miles.
“I don’t think we’ll have to worry about our guys getting up for this game,” said Gulfport head coach John Archie.
First place in the Region 4-6A standing on the line.
“We’re all just hyped," said Harrison Central offensive lineman Bryce Ramsey. "We can’t wait to play Friday.”
It's Gulfport. It's Harrison Central. And it's all coming your way this Friday night.
As the reigning region 4-6A champs, the Admirals know a thing or two about big games. Sitting at 3-0 in district and 6-1 overall, that hasn’t changed under Archie’s first year at the helm.
“I told you this before, our motto for the offseason was ‘better than average,'" Archie said. "We’re not gonna accept average here anymore at Gulfport. The way we worked this summer and in the spring, I think that’s what propelled us so far right now.”
That Harrison Central boasts the same record (6-1, 3-0) seven games may have turned some heads, but if their six-game winning streak is any indication, it’s no longer a surprise. The Red Rebels now have everyone’s attention.
“The biggest turnaround is we’re all playing as a family, staying positive, working hard every week and we’re just playing,” said Ramsey, an Ole Miss commit.
“The biggest thing is just staying together, playing hard, executing and playing together," said Harrison Central head coach Casey Cain. "If you do that, you’ve got a chance every Friday.”
A key for both defenses on this particular Friday is stopping each opponent’s dynamic quarterback.
Harrison Central gunslinger Dayln Anderson, a West Harrison transfer, has thrown for 1114 yards and 12 touchdowns to just three interceptions, to go with four rushing touchdowns as well.
“He brings the total package," Archie said of defending Anderson. "We’re going to play assignment football. Our coverage guys are going to have to stay in coverage. He can move around, he can make good passes.”
Gulfport quarterback T.Q. Newsome provides quite the challenge as well. The Southern Miss commit has thrown for 1248 yards and 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions, while also leading the Admirals with 605 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
“He’ll be the best quarterback we’ve faced all year," Cain said of Newsome. "The bottom line is, defensively, we’ve got to be able to line up right and we’ve got to tackle well.”
From bragging rights to an inside track to the region 4-6A championship, regardless of who steps up, there’s plenty on the line.
This Friday night, the eyes of the community, the Coast, and the entire state will focus on Milner Stadium.
“Gulfport and Harrison Central has always been a long-time rivalry," said Admirals linebacker Derick Hall, a four-star prospect for 2019. "Both of us being 6-1 and undefeated in the region is huge. The better man always wins, so we’re gonna come out and give our best shot. (The) game’s gonna be packed, community’s gonna there, so we’ll just come out and do the best that we can.”
“We’ve been waiting since last week. We have to take it one game at a time, but we’ll just fight for that district title. It’s gonna be a brawl. It’s gonna mean a lot if we win Friday - we’re gonna win Friday," said Ramsey with a smile.