Countdown to Kickoff 2023: Pascagoula Panthers

Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 11:10 PM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Discipline. Hard work. Family.

Three ways you can describe Pascagoula football. The program enters 2023 with a lot of excitement as they seek their first postseason berth since a South State appearance back in 2020.

“We’re just excited to get out there and just play,” head coach Lewis Sims said. “Just put the ball down, let’s play football.”

For us group of seniors, it’s our last year,” said Ole Miss commit Jeffery Rush. The last couple of seasons have been kind of upsetting, so this year we’re really excited to make some noise.”

“Getting to play with your brothers beside you is the most exciting part,” added Jones commit Brian Barnes Jr. “I’m looking forward to winning games with them and just making memories.”

A returner on offense who isn’t a senior is junior quarterback Silas Corder.

“Coming previous years, we’ve come up short,” he said. “This year we’re focused on being a team and finishing the year out.”

The Panthers senior class knows what it takes to go far in the postseason. The group has accumulated countless scholarship offers and continues to make each other better every day.

“You know, just having fun,” Rush said. “Enjoying our time together as much as we can. At the end of the day, we are all brothers.”

“It’s amazing, just being around all the great talent,” said Barnes Jr. “It’s making me a better person and a better player.”

“I learned a whole lot when I was younger from the older guys,” added defensive back Jaycen Payne. “So now that I’m older, I can just teach the younger guys.”

“It’s always important to have some older guys show the younger guys the way,” Corder claimed. “We have a lot of juniors and seniors coming up. I think the senior class is really going to take us to where we need to be.”

Entering his thirteenth season at the helm of the Panthers, Lewis Sims is excited about his team’s potential.

“We’ve got a lot of guys coming back that have a ton of potential. They’ve been on a lot of people’s radars, but the hard work they put in, the dedication they put in, the ability for them to lock in and focus and to dominate the workouts, dominate the heat, dominate whatever we’re doing has been impressive.”

Despite region realignment across the state, Pascagoula stayed in 6A. But as Sims says, anyone can win on any given night.

“I do think that the parody on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is better than it’s ever been. Anyone can beat just about anyone at any given time.”

“I’m excited to play against teams I haven’t played before,” Rush said. “You set the tone and try to give them a nice little welcoming to our division.”

“I think we’re all going to be together,” Corder said. “We know what we’re going to face and we’re looking forward to it.”

Finish the job. That’s the mindset for the 2023 Panthers, meaning there’s only one true goal.

“Winning a state championship,” Corder said. “There’s nothing else. We’re not satisfied with anything else.”

“Well, obviously, just win the ring,” said Payne.

I think these guys have really refocused their attitude and effort on finishing what they started,” Sims added. “These seniors started out with a South State Championship appearance and their goal is to make it back there and beyond. They realize the hard work it takes.

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