It’s that time of year once again.
Prep football practice starts on Monday for teams all teams sanctioned by The Mississippi High School Activities Association across the state of Mississippi, including the 24 under our 228Sports umbrella in the “Southern Six” counties of the state.
Players hit the hot, humid practice fields all across South Mississippi and beyond dreaming of winning state championships, repeating as state champs and capturing region titles and securing playoff spots and in perhaps some cases restoring respectability to their programs. The MHSAA, for the first time ever, is expanding to seven classifications beginning with the upcoming school year, a move that will affect almost 75% of the 24 teams in the “Southern Six”.
Also, there are eight new head coaches this season, two more than the six that took over last season.
A pair of the “new” head coaches just relocated from one team in the “Southern Six” to another, as Blake Pennock moved from Ocean Springs to Gulfport and John Feaster came to Moss Point from Stone High. Greyhound offensive coordinator Jake Bramlett stepped up to take Pennock’s seat in OSHS.
Feaster makes two new head coaches among the five teams in Region 8-4A, as Jeff Stockstill takes over at Pass Christian. Chase Carmody left PCHS after a couple of seasons and is now Bramlett’s defensive coordinator at OSHS.Also, both of the Class 3A Catholic schools in the “Southern Six” have new head coaches with Tim Lala in place at St. Stanislaus and Oscar Glasscox at St. Patrick.
In Region 3-6A, Jacob Webb is the new head coach at Pearl River Central replacing Jacob Owen and in Region 4-5A Jacob Aycock takes over at Stone for Feaster.
The new regions will include six teams in the top three classifications each, reduced from eight teams which had been the case for the past decade or so.
In the new Class 7A, six Mississippi Gulf Coast teams will comprise Region 4-7A. Old rivals and regular region opponents Biloxi, Gulfport, D’Iberville, St. Martin, Harrison Central, and Ocean Springs will round out that league.
Hancock and Pascagoula will remain in Class 6A, and each will still compete in Region 4-6A but now that loop will also include George County, Picayune, Long Beach, and West Harrison.
Also in Class 6A, one team, Pearl River Central, will move “north” if you will as PRC will join Forest Hill, Hattiesburg, Jim Hill, Terry, and West Jones in Region 3-6A. However, Jim Hill is expected to play as an independent in football for the next two years.
In a new twist, Region 4-5A will be comprised of East Central, Vancleave, Gautier, Stone, Laurel, and Wayne County.
Poplarville moves into Region 8-4A replacing Stone in that league which now consists of Moss Point, Bay High, Pass Christian, and Greene County as well.
In the smaller schools, St. Stanislaus remains in Region 8-3A along with St. Patrick and Resurrection remains in Region 4-1A but that loop now consists of only six teams instead of eight as well. Region 4-1A is comprised of East Marion, Enterprise-Lincoln, Lumberton, Resurrection, Sacred Heart, and Salem.
Also, in the new expansion, the same regions that are listed are in play for not only football but basketball and baseball as well. In the past, each region in the larger classifications was split into two different divisions in baseball and basketball. But that is no longer the case.
The 2023 football season will see most teams play in jamborees of some form or fashion the week of Fri., Aug. 18th before the new campaign officially kicks off on Friday, Aug. 25th for all 24 squads in the “Southern Six”.