PINE BELT (WDAM) - After spending more than two decades coaching football in Brooklyn, Larry Dolan is quite familiar with the lay of the land at Forrest County Agricultural High School.
But for the first time in a 25-year coaching career, Dolan will find himself on the visitors' sideline Thursday night when he brings Pearl River Central to Bulldog country.
"I don't know that I've ever done that before," Dolan said, who was hired as athletic director/football coach in Carriere last spring. "Maybe once or twice in 25 years, I may have stood over there during practice, but that's about it. It's going to be different."
The Blue Devils and Bulldogs kick off the 2016 season at 7 p.m.
"There's no doubt, it's going to be a special night, but I've got to keep the focus on the kids," Dolan said, who guided the Aggies to a Class 4A state championship in 2013. "This is my home now, this is where I'm at, and we're going to do our best to win the ballgame."
So, too, FCAHS, which has been to the state playoffs the last 11 years, including the past two under Coach Lee Sullivan, who took over after Dolan left for Columbia Academy for the 2014 season.
FCAHS will be inexperienced, with senior transfer Roy'Quez McNair expected to make his first start at quarterback behind a young offensive line.
"He came in last spring, and he's been doing decent," Sullivan said. "I just need to see him in game. There's a lot of difference between practice and a game. We'll see how he is under pressure in a game."
Senior running back Kelby Gaddis is expected to be the lead back in the Aggies' ground game.
"He played some last year, and then got hurt, but he's back," Sullivan said. "We're going to be young and inexperienced, but each week, we're going to get better, and hopefully, good things will happen for us."
PRC will come in green as well after graduating 27 seniors from last year's Region 7-4A champions.
But the Blue Devils return starting quarterback Wyatt Davis, leading receiver, tight end Cade Lee, and running back Michael Tatman, who was one of three backs to reach 1,000 yards in 2015.
"We're relying on them, but we have a few others that we think can do it, but they just haven't had the game experience," Dolan said. "We've got a bunch of new kids. We have four starters returning on offense and one back on defense. I hate to say we're rebuilding, but that's what it is. But it's exciting. The kids are fired up. They're ready to go. It's a good community, just like my Forrest County community for all those years. Good people, good kids."