Countdown To Kickoff: Biloxi

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Eleven months ago, Biloxi missed its week one game due to COVID protocols, only to come back and outscore its next two opponents 65-0. For a program that has garnered a hefty load of momentum over the first three years of the Katlan French era, a more normal summer hopes to be the first chapter of the next successful campaign.

“It’s been a good summer for our kids. They’re having fun, we’re having a lot of fun,” French said. “Hopefully we can stay the course and have a season that’s very normal, and a good one.”

The Indians lose over 1,400 yards of production in the form of running back K.K. Kendrick, but leading receiver Deon Hardin returns, with an increased workload on tap.

“You should catch me all over the field,” Hardin said. “We’re going to be in the end-zone a lot, I can promise you that. We had a lot of talent leave, but we have a lot of talent here. I feel like we have everything we need to get where we want to be.”

On top of returning four starting offensive linemen, quarterback Deljay Bailey is under center for year two, after completing 62 percent of his passes as a freshman, along with six touchdowns in seven games played.

“Deljay is one of the smartest football players I’ve ever coached,” French said. “He understands the game, he’s a coach’s son, he’s been around this thing for a long time. He loves it, he takes it very seriously, we’re really excited about him and all the things he brings to the table for this team.”

The defense stood firm for three shutouts last season, and held five of its 10 opponents to six points or fewer. Ethan Dematos, Braeden Ratliff, and Mississippi State commit RJ Moss combined for nine sacks a year ago, and are hungry for more this time around.

“I think we’re going to be a really experienced team,” Dematos, a senior linebacker, said. “We’ve all been together for a long time, I think we work well together.”

“We have to have a dog mentality and stay in our lane,” defensive back Terrance Simmons said. “There are a lot of big things coming up, big places we can go, but we have to keep working towards it.”

On the back of consecutive postseason appearances for just the second time in the modern playoff era, things are certainly trending upward for Biloxi. But that doesn’t mean they’re fully satisfied.

“We’re looking for more here. We’re moving in the right direction,” French said. “We’re reaching a very crucial year for us and our program. History shows that this tends to be a drop-off year, we want to make sure we’re not complacent and do the things we need to do to be the best team we can possibly be.”

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