by Lyndy Berryhill & Hunter Dawkins
For the second consecutive year, the Vancleave High School beat Long Beach 27-7. The Jackson County High School, coached by former Moss Point and Mississippi State star Quarterback Kevin Fant proved to be too much with a dominating defense Friday night in Vancleave.
“I’m obviously disappointed,” Long Beach Head Coach Ryan Ross said after the defeat. Ross said after a tough week of practice, he knew playing Vancleave would be a big evaluation night to see where the team stood against.
Additionally, Ross knew Vancleave was well-coached and the Bearcats would battle to match up with the Bulldogs, but they only posted once score late towards the end. The Bulldogs scored 20 points in the first half to provide a little cushion for the defense.
The Bearcats drove the line of scrimmage close to the end zone more than once. Down to fourth and goal on the 23-yard-line, the Bearcats could not break through the wall of Vancleave players. The ball returned to the Bulldogs at the 29-yard-line for the remaining minutes of the first half.
After a halftime break to recoup, cleats were back on the field. Vancleave led 20-0 at the half.
The Bulldogs put one more touchdown on the scoreboard during the fourth, but the Bearcats finally broke into the end zone as Long Beach Junior Running Back Ahijern Brooks ran a 30-yard touchdown, bringing their one and only touchdown of the game in the final quarter.
Ross said he hopes the loss will be a learning experience for players and encourage them to put more into practice before the next game.
“That’s the first step,” Ross expressed following the game. “We will continue to keep grinding and play hard.”
The Bearcats will host St. Stanislaus at Lumpkin Magee Field in Long Beach on Friday. St. Stanislaus has beaten Long Beach 6 consecutive times with the last Long Beach victory being in 2006.