PRC looking for playoffs

Published 11:36 pm Saturday, August 30, 2008

There’s no question what goal third year Pearl River Central head coach Jeremy Weir has for his Blue Devils this season.

“I we don’t make the playoffs we will be real disappointed,” Weir, whose team was 1-8 last season and winless in Region 8-4A, said. “I feel good about our chances. I felt like we were a better team last year, especially at the end of the season, than we were in my first year even though we didn’t win as many games last year as we did the first. If we continue to improve, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be in the playoffs.”

Weir’s third version has plenty of experience to draw upon in order to put themselves in postseason position. Seven starters are back on offense, including the signal-caller Blake Herrin who his now a three year starter.

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“The returning experience we have back should be a plus, especially in the backfield and up front,” Weir said, referring to the offensive line on which just about everybody started last season. “With Blake, anytime you have a guy in that spot that is a three year guy, that should mean he’s in for a big year.”

Herrin will have some weapons at his disposal, including speedy standout running back Je’Barr Locure who burst upon the local scene last year in fine fashion scoring 14 touchdowns.

“He is very explosive and he is exciting to watch,” Weir said of Locure. “He has big play capabilities and he wants the ball, that’s a good combination.”

Herrin and Locure will be joined in the backfield by returning running back Ben Lee and fullback Phillip Geraci, giving PRC an experienced backfield.

Cody Dillard line up at wingback, while Josh Taggart and Garrett Penton will be out wide.

Travis Landry and Kelly Lauga provide experience at the tight end spot.

Experience is a theme up front as well, with Alan Smith returning at center, Colby Dillard and Zach Lancaster at guard and Nicky Thigpen and Cole Stewart back at tackles. Dylan Rogers and Caleb Jones will provide depth.

“Our line has gotten progressively stronger, that’s one area we have improved in,” Weir added. “Most of those guys are seniors and have been starting for two or three years, so it’s their time to get us over the hump.”

Brady Jordan, who was perfect on all of his extra point attempts last season, returns as the place-kicker and could be a weapon for the Blue Devils. Geraci is the punter.

“I feel good about those guys on special teams,” Weir said.

Defensively, PRC is replacing six lost starters and has a new wrinkle as well.

Jay Beech. the secondary coach, has now assumed the defensive coordinator duties.

“I am excited about the defense,” Weir said. They have been doing a really good job of getting to the ball and being aggressive. I think Jay will make a difference.”

The linebacking unit, led by Brandon Farmer, will be one key defensively. The returning starter Farmer will be joined back there by Dylan Rogers and Tyler Lee, as well as Kyle Mitchell, Ben Lee and Kelly Lauga.

“Brandon is a three year guy also, so we are expecting big things from him,” Weir said.

Up front, Zach Lancaster and Colby Dillard will man the ends, with Travis Landry and Alan Smith holding down the tackle spots. Cole Stewart will provide depth.

In the secondary, Locure, Jordan and Taggart will man the corners, while Penton will handle the lone safety spot.

Most observers have Picayune and D’Iberville battling for the region title, but even if that’s the case like it was last year that still leaves another pair of playoff spots up for grabs.

“I think after those two, it’s wide open,” said Weir, whose team faces the Warriors and Maroon Tide right off the bat in league play after a tough pre-region slate that consists of South Jones, Vancleave and Forrest County AHS. “I think we have as good a chance as any of the other five to get one of those playoff spots.”