Four Downs: Early season thoughts

By CAMAL PETRO,

We’re a couple of weeks into the season and I’ve seen five of our eight teams, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on what I’ve seen or heard so far. I’ve separated this column into four separate topics that have caught my attention so far this young season.

First down: The undefeated teams in the area

We have five teams that have started the season 2-0, which is four more than we had last season. So, what does that mean? Do we have more start championship contenders in the area this year? I realize it’s just two games, but some of these teams have looked really, really impressive.

Oak Grove and PCS have dominated its first two opponents, and Lumberton is coming off a really impressive win against a 4A school, Bay High. Hattiesburg has beaten two of its biggest rivals, but I can definitely see a lot of areas that need to be fixed with the Tigers, which is probably the scariest thing about them. Hattiesburg can be a lot better. Lastly, Sacred Heart has beaten two 2A schools, one by 21 points and the other in a shootout. I think the Crusaders are in the process of proving their offense can keep them in some ballgames this season.

I’ll see Sacred Heart for the first time Friday night, so I’ll have a better opinion after the game.

So, again, what does all of this mean? Not too much yet. These wins won’t get these teams into the playoffs, but it doesn’t help build confidence as district play approaches.

Second down: Sumrall coach Shannon White

I talk to all eight high school coaches every week either on Monday or Tuesday, and Sumrall coach Shannon White is one of the more buttoned up coaches as far as not telling me some things. He likes to keep things close to the vest, which is fine. That makes me want to ask better questions.

When I called White on Tuesday, one question I wanted to ask was how he changed his offense. He was very open about the decision that went into it.

“The problem wasn’t the offense; the problem was me,” he said. “Our kids knew the offense, but I didn’t know how to call plays (in the wing-T offense).”

He would go on for another minute explaining why the wing-T offense was a great fit for his team, but not for him as a coach.

Kudos to White, because I think a lot of coaches would have held his ground to try and make the new offense work, let alone say those quotes on the record. Sumrall was transitioning from a spread offense to the wing-T, which are nearly opposite of each other, and it took a jamboree and the first game of the regular season for White to figure out he needed to make a change to help his team win more ballgames.

And of course, the Bobcats would win the next game in the more traditional offense, scoring touchdowns on their first two drives.

Third down: Every team has at least one win

Even though it’s just two game into the regular season, to me, that’s pretty impressive. Of course, no team wants to start 0-2, but sometimes it happens. Take Purvis last year, for an example. Despite the rough start in 2016, the Tornadoes advanced to the 4A Quarterfinals.

Coaches say it all of the time, they want their team to be better at the end of the season than they were at the beginning. Sure, the first four or five non-district games don’t matter for playoff seedings, so starting the season 0-2 isn’t a detriment, but no coach would want that scenario.

Teams like Purvis, Sumrall and Petal all won its first game of the season last week, and I expect those teams to win many more.

Fourth down: We still have a long way to go

I think the biggest thing to remember as we head into Week 3 is it’s still very, very early.

Like I said on First Down, these wins don’t count toward a team’s playoff berth. Coaches want to use this time to get their teams better for the district schedule, so just because a team isn’t playing at a high level, it doesn’t mean it won’t in a couple of weeks.

It’s still early, but it is good to see some of our area teams playing so well. I think we’re in for a good next couple of months.

Follow Camal on Twitter via @PineBeltSPORTS or email him: camal@PineBeltSPORTS.com