GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Admirals return a solid defensive unit from 2016 and that defense will play a key role early in the season with a revamped offense.
Head Coach Eddie Pierce and his offensive staff have been implementing a new offense for the 2017 season. It's called the Flex Bone.
Coach Pierce said, "I think it best suits our personnel right now and so we like it."
Assistant coach Mickey D'Angelo spent time at Georgia Tech to learn more on the Flex Bone offense and he says the players are responding.
Junior quarterback T.Q. Newsome will run the Flex Bone. He has quickly adapted to the new offense since he missed spring practice due to baseball.
"He's made giant strides this summer, "said Coach Pierce. "He's a bigger kid. He's a 215 pound guy. He was our running back last year and he's a tough kid. He can run and throw. So, I think we can best utilize his talents in the new offense."
Senior running back Larozzo Shugart rushed for 488 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. This year he's been moved to wing back along with wide receiver Jaylen Knight who hauled in 38 passes for 867 yards and 5 touchdowns.
"We want to get the ball in their hands, "said Coach Pierce. "We feel like if we get them the ball and T.Q. Newsome is running the football, our offense will be fine. We're looking for a big fullback to provide blocking upfront."
Knight said, "I will try to do my best to make the team better. Probably won't have as many catches, but I'm just going to strive to do better."
Derick Hall should also play a major role in the receiving game. The Admirals will take advantage of his height, at 6-feet-5. Hall will be a two-way performer and will see action on the defensive side of the ball at the linebacker position.
Coach Pierce said, "Hall is just a good athlete all the way around. He works hard and we're real proud of him."
Hall plays basketball and also is an outstanding long jumper on the Admirals track team.
Pierce says his offensive line will be young and projects two sophomore to be in the starting lineup and possibly three.
While the offensive line will be young, the defense returns experienced senior talent. Karlos Dillard led the Admirals with 146 tackles last season as a junior. 240 pound defensive lineman Jeremiah Braziel says the Admirals come to play on Friday nights. He piled up 61 tackles in 2016.
Braziel said, "We want to come out and get shutouts every night. Get three and out and get our offense out on the field every second they can to work the new offense in."
The Gulfport Jamboree is set for August 11 at Milner Stadium. Forrest County AHS and Harrison Central play in game one at 5:30, followed by St. Stanislaus and Gulfport at 7:00 p.m.
The bullets start flying for real on August 18 with Gulfport High School hosting the Port City Bowl at Milner Stadium. Jeff Davis County and Harrison Central get things rolling at 5:30 followed by the George County Rebels and Gulfport at 8:15 p.m.