OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - The 2020 offseason was different and difficult for every coach and player. If it’s your first year at a new school, you missed out on important time to get to know your team and its identity - and such was the case for first year Ocean Springs coach Blake Pennock.
“Typically in the spring, you find out and evaluate some things about certain players. But it wasn’t until about two weeks ago that we saw them in pads,” Pennock said. “That’s a deal we’re still lining up and trying to figure out. We’ll use these first couple games in our non-district to see what we can do best.”
Pennock is inheriting a team fresh off a postseason appearance, anchored by a defense that allowed fewer than 20 points per contest - including three games of allowing a touchdown or less.
“Right now I feel like experience on the defensive side of the football, I feel really good about where we are,” he said. “Those guys really play hard, they’re in the right spot, we do a great job of being there, playing hard, and playing as a defensive unit.”
“I think we’re balanced,” senior linebacker Will Furra said. “We have play-makers everywhere from our corners, to our defensive linemen to our safeties, I think we’re well-rounded. We’re all brothers. We’ve all been together. We stay safe and do what we do. Coach Pennock is an awesome coach and he really makes us work above the line and keep on pushing.”
Offensively, the Greyhounds will be without last year’s starting quarterback Blake Noblin, the top two leading rushers, and two of the top three leading receivers. But this year’s offense is full of guys ready to make a name for themselves.
“I think there will be a lot of fireworks this year,” quarterback and wide receiver Jak King said. “We have two really good running backs, and we’re going to be able to throw the ball. There’s going to be fireworks.”
The starting quarterback battle has lasted throughout the summer, and has come down to the final week before kickoff. But no matter who is under center for the first snap of the year, Pennock and his team will be ready.
“The great thing about both quarterbacks is that they have similar skill sets,” Pennock said. “We’re not going to change personality when we bring in one or the other. We’re going to see the next week of game-week practice and see who our starter is going to be, and let the games figure it out.”