There wasn’t a state football championship on the line, or even the extra juice of a huge rivalry game.
But Jefferson Davis County High School coach Lance Mancuso placed the Jaguars’ 25-10 victory Friday night at Harrison Central High School among the most memorable in his long and storied career.
“Sure, definitely,” Mancusco said. “It’s kind of one of those that will always stand out.”
While Friday offered a new beginning as the majority of the high school football teams across the Pine Belt opened the 2017season, the game in Gulfport marked the inaugural football game for a high school that didn’t exist a year ago.
Jefferson Davis County High School was created by the consolidation of long-time athletic rivals Bassfield High School and Prentiss High School.
Mancuso said the transition has gone well.
“It’s gone even better than expected, but you never really know what to expect until someone fires that first shot at you,” Mancuso said. “But you couldn’t have written a better script for that magic night,but we have a long, long way to go.”
The Jaguars will have to do so without running back Ricky Griffin. The junior went down Friday with a dislocated ankle, marking the second consecutive year that Griffin had gone down in the opening game with a season-ending injury.
“You just feel for the young man,” Mancuso said. “He’d worked so hard to get back.”
Mancuso said the first win in the first game of new high school’s first season was a team effort.
“Offensively, it was a combination” Mancusco said. “Nobody really stood out. Everybody just worked hard and kind of got the job done.
“Defensively, I thought our linebackers played really, really well, (especially) Darrell Sims, while on the (defensive) line, Radonte Womack played really well. But it was just kind of a game where nobody really stood out but everybody kind of got the job done.”
Jefferson Davis County will host Collins High School at 7 p.m. Friday in the new school’s first home game.
Laurel 24, Callaway 12
JACKSON _ Newcomer Zias Perryman rushed for a pair of touchdowns and freshman quarterback Xavier Evans threw for another as the Tornadoes came back from the north with a road win.
“We did the things we talked about all preseason, watching the turnovers and the penalties,” Laurel coach Todd Breland said. “Callaway, they have got a team full of athletes, now, so for us to go up there and get a win, that was a great way to start.
“We counted up, I think, about 20 kids who played significant football (Friday) who had not done that before. So, thought we played well. It was typical first game, where we did some things not so (well), but also did some great things.”
Callaway led 6-3 after one quarter, Juan Lechuga’s 35-yard field goal had given Laurel a3-0 lead, but Jalen Bracey caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Malik Heath to put the Chargers ahead.
Perryman, who had been homeschooled before enrolling at Laurel late last fall, scored on 7-yard run to give Laurel the lead for good in the second quarter. After the Tornadoes recovered a fumble, Perryman ripped off a 37-yard scoring run to put the Tornadoes ahead 17-6 at halftime.
“You go back to here’s one of those guys in first-game action, and once he got lathered up, he made some big plays for us,” Breland said. “His physicality’s kind of what stands out. He did some really good things, ran with some determination.”
Callaway cut the lead to 17-12 in the third quarter on an 85-yard run by Lakenith Thompson, but Evans found Brandon Gordon with a 48-yard touchdown pass to keep the Chargers at bay.
The win was the first of four non-region games for the Torandoes that includes upcoming tilts with Hattiesburg, Oak Grove and Petal high schools.
“Our non-region schedule is going to make us better, and to get that first one, that’s going to give us a little momentum.”
Laurel will host Hattiesburg High School at 7 p.m. Friday in the renewal of the Battle for the Little Brown Jug. The Tigers defeated Petal High School Saturday night 43-37.
Wayne County 43, West Jones 7
WAYNESBORO _ The Mustangs’ Antoine Harris returned the game’s opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown.
It was all War Eagles after that in the second game of Friday night’s Timber Bowl doubleheader.
Senior Heath Mosley kicked three field goals, senior quarterback Zabryan Jackson ran for one touchdown and threw for another and Wayne County returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns as the War Eagles flew away from the Mustangs in the second half.
After the initial gut punch, Wayne County came back. Senior running back Joshua Page scored on a 33-yard run and Mosley made a 28-yard field goal as the War Eagles grabbed a 9-7 lead after the first quarter.
Mosley’s field goals of 37 yards and 36 yards pushed Wayne County’s lead to 15-7 at halftime.
The War Eagles put the game away in the third quarter. Junior linebacker Joshua Howard scored on a 20-yard interception return, Jackson found senior receiver Dearius Royal with a 25-yard touchdown pass and senior free safety Rodricus Watkins returned another interception 59 yards to give Wayne County a 36-7 lead after three quarters.
Jackson capped the scoring with a 54-yard run in the fourth quarter.
West Jones could manage just 109 total yards. The Mustangs not only hurt themselves with the two, “pick sixes,” but also committed 14 penalties for minus 116 yards.
West Jones junior quarterback Hunter Parish completed 5 of 15 passes for 40 yards, while senior running back Austin Land led the Mustangs with 39 yards on 17 carries.
In the opening game of the Timber Bowl, Wayne Academy dropped a 17-10 decision to South Choctaw Academy from Toxey, Ala.
Wayne County will travel to Oak Grove at 7 p.m. Friday. The Warriors ran past Purvis High School 45-7 Friday.
West Jones will visit Northeast Jones High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Tigers lost 29-19 to Taylorsville High School Friday.
Wayne Academy will host Hillcrest Christian Academy at 7 p.m. Friday.
Seminary 9, Collins 6
SEMINARY _ The Bulldogs trailed for more than three quarters before coming up with a safety and a big play to down the visiting Tigers Friday night.
Markel McLaurin’s 60-yard punt return put Collins ahead 6-0 in the first quarter.
But the safety cut the lead to 6-2, and then Tyveron Morgan hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass to give Seminary the win.
Seminary will host Franklin County High School at 7 p.m. Friday. Franklin County lost 27-14 to South Pike High School Friday.
Collins will visit Jefferson Davis County High School at 7 p.m. in the first home game for the new, consolidated high school.
Columbia 41, Richton 8
COLUMBIA _ Kentrel Bullock rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries and quarterback Ralpheal Luter ran for a score and threw for another Friday night as the Wildcats mauled the Rebels.
Columbia ran for 274 yards, with eight different players carrying the ball at least once. Daquan Ball backed Bullock with 50 yards and a touchdown on six carries, while Luter added 25 yards and a score on three carries and Kadarrian scored on a 15-yard run.
With the ground game rolling, Luter only threw five times, but completed four for 64 yards. Jamison Kelly had two catches for 37 yards and a touchdown.
The Wildcats’ seventh touchdown came when Jermaine Barnes returned a punt 70 yards.
Harrison Foxworth kicked four extra points, while Bullock ran in a two-point conversion.
Columbia will travel just across U.S. 98 to visit East Marion High School at 7 p.m. Friday. Richton will host Sacred Heart Catholic School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Crusaders defeated Loyd Star 35-14 Friday.
Amite County 28, East Marion 20
LIBERTY _ The Trojans outscored the Eagles 16-6 in the second quarter to open up a 10-point lead, and then held on for the win Friday night.
The Eagles will host Columbia at 7 p.m. Friday.