PASS CHRISTIAN – The 2023 Pass High football team is making school history as it is the first Pirates’ team to play in the third round of the state playoffs. The Pirates will be hosting Columbia on Friday night.
This undefeated Columbia team will present quite a challenge for Pass High, but the Pirates bring a great deal of momentum to this game. They are riding a four-game win streak, including a 27-7 win over Quitman High School on the road last Friday. The Pirates have also grown as a team over the course of the season; they lost two of their first seven games by a total of 12 points (24-20 to St. Stanislaus and 31-23 to Poplarville). Pass Christian sits 9-2 overall and Columbia is a perfect 12-0 entering Friday nights Class 4A South State semifinal round clash.
So, there are several reasons for the Pirates’ success this year as well as going into Friday’s game with some confidence. One reason is a stout senior class of sixteen players who have bought in to first-year Pirates’ head coach Jeff Stockstill’s approach to developing a culture of leadership, responsibility, and accountability.
Another reason is Coach Stockstill. Stockstill is a proven winner, having success at all three schools he coached at prior to Pass High. He also coached Scott Central to consecutive 2A state championships in 2021 and ’22.
“I knew about the Pass, and I had coached against them over the years,” said Stockstill about his decision to accept the coaching position at Pass High. “I knew that they had the pieces, and I felt if we could get them on the same page, then we could win some games.
“The school I came from, they were one hundred percent football. That’s all they did. They were a football school, a football town. So, I thought, if I could instill some of that attitude into the players, and get some guys moving in the right direction, then maybe we could slip up and build some football culture. We have good coaches and a good senior class. They have bought in. It takes a lot of people. It’s not just running this on offense and running that on defense, and we’ll automatically be good. It takes getting the right people in the right places and setting some standards and some expectations and things like that.
“We had goals, we wanted to compete for district, we wanted to make the playoffs, and we wanted to host a postseason game if we could,” said Stockstill. “So right now, we’re just playing with house money, and we want to take it as far as we can.”
When it comes to the two losses, Stockstill believes that the Pirates have learned from those losses, and they’ve grown from those losses.
“Both of our losses went down to the last minute of the game,” said Stockstill. “And of course, against Stanislaus I thought we had a good game plan. We just didn’t execute it. And, of course you know they had Lamar Jackson (Ian Rios) back there playing quarterback for them, and he was a handful. We just couldn’t get off the field on third down and left some plays out there. I tip my cap to those guys. They had a good season.
“Both of our losses went down to the last minute of the game, and the last one to the last play of the game,” said Stockstill. “We were in every game down to the wire, even the games we didn’t win.”
Stockstill said that the level of effort from his players has been where it needs to be all season. He said the “trick” is to get his players to practice how they play.
“If you practice how you play, and your effort and your hustle, that’s eventually going to carry over, pay off for you,” said Stockstill.
Stockstill talked about how the four-game win streak provides inspiration going into Friday’s game. “Winning takes care of a lot of things,” said Stockstill. “If we’re sitting at three and six, or two and seven, my words may not hold much value. So, when you win a few games, you get a little more focus, you get a little more attention, a little more than they normally would.”
Stockstill said earlier in the season, the trend was to play two or three good games and then have a sloppy game.
“We’ve played good for a few weeks,” said Stockstill. “We knew not to fall back into that trap.”
Some of the players to watch this week are senior quarterback Ladd Scriber who passed for 2123 yards. Senior receiver Terry Patton is the leading receiver with 960 yards (87.3 Y/G). Junior Jacquez Alexander-Dedeaux leads the Pirates’ rushing attack with 130.5 yards per game.
On defense, senior Kaiden Mooney leads the team with 6.5 tackles per game. Senior Jayden Acker leads the team with 6 sacks on the season, and senior Cooper Schatzle has two interceptions.