by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/AP Member – editor@thegazebogazette.com

For the first time since the pandemic (COVID-19) in 2020, the annual matchup of the cross-town rivals; Long Beach and Pass Christian, will take place Friday night, August 26.  Although the rivalry remains friendly, both teams are hoping to get their teams started on the right foot.

With Long Beach having their first organized football team in 1929 and Pass Christian beginning in 1930, neither team has a history of success.

The Long Beach Bearcats won only one Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) District 4-5A Championship with a 10-2 record, but lost in the first round of the playoffs with a 10-2 record.  The Pass Christian Pirates have not won a district championship in the MHSAA era (1981); however, were victorious the first playoff win in school history in 2019.

In one of the oldest rivalries on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Long Beach holds an advantage of 40-21-1 in recorded games against Pass Christian.

Since the start of each football team, neither has been in a conference together.  In the early 1970’s, both municipality schools enjoyed undefeated records and conference championships.  In 1973 & 1974, the Bearcats earned the Gulf Coast Conference Championship at 11-0 and 6-4 respectively.

Their 1974 team that finished 6-4 lost to Pass Christian 14-12 in overtime for the last game of the year despite being in a separate conference.

In 1974 & 1975, the Pass Christian Pirates won back-to-back Pascagoula River Conference Championships; including their 10-win undefeated season in 1975.

While neither team has accomplished a lot of success, both squads have enjoyed close to 300 wins all time for their program.  Below is an evaluation of both teams.

Long Beach

With the fourth head football coach in over five years, Jacob Massey hopes to be the answer the Bearcats faithful are looking for.  A former collegiate quarterback for Louisiana College, who has helped change the offensive programs at DeSoto Central, Amory, and Petal, Massey brings in a wealth of knowledge from one side of the football.

“As head coach of the Long Beach High School football team, I want to create positive relationships with the players, coaches and the community,” Massey said. “Teamwork, discipline, and accountability will be fundamental principles guiding our program.”

The Bearcats new motto is WIN standing for ‘what’s important now.’ Massey & veteran assistant football coaches think the new season will be the beginning of a foundation.

In an attempt to break a 23-game losing streak, Long Beach and Massey have focused on building a winning culture with the Bearcats returning 16 starters and 16 seniors led by HB Colt Busby, QB Will Brady, RB Edjuan Trautman and Defensive Lineman LaZerrick Brooks.

Long Beach’s early schedule of non-district opponents may prove to be valuable with three home matchups.

Pass Christian

If the global pandemic (COVID-19) was tough on any high school team the last two years, Pass Christian would be on the top of the list.  With all of these scenarios of missed game and players being out taking place, the Pirates Head Football Coach Chase Carmody believes this Pass High team will be more unified.

“The 3-0 playoff loss to Newton County left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth and we’re looking forward to getting back out,” expressed Carmody.  “The core of our team is our junior class, who’ve been with me since I started and have played a lot of football.”

Plenty of reason for optimism heading into 2022 with the Pirates returning 15 starters and the new team motto is to “burn the boats,” referencing the old Spanish conquistadors taking over the Aztec Empire.

Behind a stout offensive line and solid skill players, such as WR/DB Terry Patton Jr., RB Jacquez Alexander-Dedeaux, WR Anthony James, QB Ladd Scriber, Safety Cooper Schatzle, Linebacker Micah McKay, DE Jayden Acker, and DL Malik Cherry, the team is looking for its second consecutive playoff berth and first ever District 8-4A Championship.

The Oyster Bowl will be played at 7:30pm under the lights of Lumpkin Magee Stadium in Long Beach on Friday, August 26, 2022.

(Editorial Cartoon by Ricky Nobile)