by Joseph W. Gex II, Staff Writer

The West Harrison Hurricanes’ 2021 football season did not get off to the start that they would have hoped for on Friday, August 27, at Bay High. The Hurricanes had six turnovers en route to a 26-7 loss to the Tigers at Tank Williams Field/Joe D. McCullouch Stadium.

But, to even things out, the Tigers played a jamboree the week before while West Harrison has had quarantines due to COVID-19 issues; plus, both schools dealt with the storm that came through the area.

The Tigers (1-0) jumped out to 13-0 lead by halftime.  West Harrison twice fumbled punts away in the first half.

Bay High got on the board first when Ben Wilemon recovered a bad snap in the endzone for a touchdown with 7:42 left in the first half. The two-point conversion failed leaving the score 6-0.

The Hurricanes fumbled the ball back to Bay High as Johan Smith pounced on the loose ball.

The Tigers mounted a nine-play drive that resulted in a Noah Cutter three-yard scoring run with 52 seconds left in the first half. The PAT by Avery Harris was good making the score 13-0 at intermission.

Melvin Pickens and Keonte Smith started to move the ball on offense for West Harrison but turned the ball over on downs after an eight-play drive.

West Harrison held Bay High to a three-and-out and took over at their own 11 yard line. But, West Harrison fumbled the ball away to Bay High at their own 29 yard line.

Cutter found the endzone on the third play of the drive from 16 yards out with 2:22 left in the third quarter to make the score 20-0 after the PAT by Harris.

The Hurricanes answered right back with their best drive of the game. Pickens had carries of 13, 3, 5 and 29 yards on the eight-play drive before Smith ripped off six yards followed by a 14-yard gain that found paydirt in the endzone with 11:49 left in the game. Kole Joyner converted on the PAT to make the score 20-7.

The Hurricanes then converted an insides kick and had the ball at midfield; however, on the second play of the drive the Hurricanes fumbled the ball away to the Tigers.

Bay High sealed the game with a six-play drive that ended with a 12-yard scoring run by Carmello Simpson with 7:18 left to play. The PAT by Harris was no good leaving the final score 26-7.

Bay High head coach Jeremy Turcotte commented, “My hat goes off to our defensive coaching staff and their game plan. The kids fed off their intensity tonight. We seemed to settle down after the first couple of offensive series. Give credit to West Harrison and their Wing T attack which is difficult to prepare for. We were sluggish tonight but we are committed to playing some younger guys in areas and game experience will help cure that sluggish appearance. I will take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day.”

Bay High was led by Cutter with 10 carries for 42 yards and two scores on offense while Smith paced the defense with 14 total tackles including five solos, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

West Harrison head coach Quincy Patrick stated, “The result was not what I wanted to see but it is somewhat expected after the quarantines we experienced, not playing a jamboree last week like Bay High had the opportunity to do, and the fact that we have a major storm coming to our area this weekend. I thought our defense played well considering we had six turnovers on offense. When we settled down and moved the ball, we proved we could do that. Bay High is a better team than they are given credit for. This week we play Southeast Lauderdale so we will study film and hit the practice field to get better.”

The Hurricanes were paced by Pickens with 15 carries for 93 yards and Smith with 12 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown.  West Harrison is in their 13th season of football and currently own a 19-109 overall record.

This was the ninth time the Tigers and the Hurricanes have played with Bay High owning a slim 5-4 record over West Harrison. After two years in Class 6A, West Harrison is back in Region 4-5A. 

Last year, West Harrison beat Southeast Lauderdale 41-35. The Hurricanes host the Trojans at 7pm.

(Photos and story contributed to by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher)