GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - High School football teams are practicing in extremely hot conditions, in preparation for the new season. In 2015, the Gulfport Admirals posted 9 wins and 3 losses.
Admirals head coach Eddie Pierce has been dealing with a tough off-season. His wife lost her courageous battle to cancer and Pierce is recovering from a heart attack.
"It's been a tough six months, but you know God has blessed me, "said Pierce. "We're moving forward and happy football season has started. We've got a good group of kids and they're a lot of fun to coach."
Quarterback Cleveland Ford is back. He helped direct the Admirals offense that ran off a perfect 7 and 0 Region 4-6A record. In 2015 Ford passed for 996 yards with 7 touchdowns and added 231 yards rushing and 3 TDs.
Ford said, "I think I'm patient. I take my time. I don't try to force anything that's not there. Try to do my best in what I've got. I think I can read defenses pretty good. I think some people try to play weird coverages with me. I think I do very good in recognizing what the defense is giving me."
Senior Sean Daniels, a 6-foot-1, 180 pound receiver hauled in 24 passes for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2015.
Junior running back Larozzo Shugart used his 5-6, 150 pound frame to average 8.1 yards per carry last season with 9 touchdowns. What he lacks in height, he makes up for it with burning speed. If the offensive line can provide an opening, he can take it to the house.
Defensively, the Admirals return the front seven including linebackers Karlos Dillard Payton Williams and Keenan Magee. The trio piled up 198 total tackles in 2015.
Magee said, "For our job to be done, everybody has got to finish the job. So, that comes from us being a family and coming together and doing what we need to do to win games."
Gulfport has a new high school under construction and the Admirals football team has a new field house. And while it's not totally completed, the players are able to lift weights.
The Admirals open the new season August 19 facing Long Beach at 5:00 p.m. in the annual Shrimp Bowl at Biloxi Stadium.