D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Four of the D'Iberville Warriors' first five game are at home, including this Friday against the run-heavy Picayune Maroon Tide, but running is basically what Eric Collins and Pearl River Central did during his last six years with the Blue Devils.
"Of course you have to have talent, and you have to have luck as well because you have to stay healthy," said Collins, who is entering his first year as D'Iberville's head coach. "There's a whole lot of things between now and state championship that has to take place. You just try to take one game at a time and see how things fall out."
Senior fullback Micah Booker is one of the players who will be counted on to run the ball -- and block -- in Collins' unique Wing-T offense behind one of the biggest offensive lines on the coast.
Booker will also be switching numbers from 26 to 18 this year to continue the tradition of honoring the legacy of Fred Dunbar, who collapsed during a game in 2011 and later died.
"Number 26 was a number my uncle wore when he was at TCU," Booker said. "It was hard to let go, but I felt like number 18 had a bit more responsibility that came with it.
"It shows me that my coaches and my teammates trust me and knew that I was a hardworking person. I come to practice looking forward to work hard and getting better every day. It shows me that they have a lot of trust in me and they believe that I can do great things."
I'zayiah Jacob, Aaron Anspach, Kaylon Evans and Elisha Wilson are the other D'Iberville players to wear the number 18 since 2012.
Defensively, opposing teams might have to be patient passing the ball against D'Iberville. D.J. Polk and Chris Thompson are two defensive backs to watch along with Southern Miss commit Tyler Barnes, whose combination of speed, strength and experience pose a consistent threat.
D'Iberville was one of three coast teams that did not start the regular season August 19. Having the first week off is something that Collins would usually not prefer, but it's allowed him even more time to become acclimated with a team he joined in March.
"Normally I would not like the first week off," Collins said. "Next year I'd like to be able to go ahead and play Week 1. Every day is precious to us."
The Warriors will play a Picayune team that finished 5-7 last season -- its first losing record since 1994 when the Maroon Tide had 10 losses in 11 games.
"They're a team that plays all four quarters," Barnes said. "They're not always the most athletic team, but they fight. They'll fight to the end and hit you in the mouth. We have to make sure we hit them in the mouth before us."