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Coachspeak: Moss Point's Lewis Sims

CoachesAid.com Mississippi content coordinator

The Moss Point Tigers are known around the state as a football dynasty. The Tigers have won five state championships since the MHSAA began crowning state champions in 1981. Moss Point has begun the season with a 1-1 record and is coming off a 41-19 win Friday night against rival Picayune. CoachesAid.com sat down with head coach Lewis Sims to talk about the Tigers in 2009.  

Q:Tell us about the team this year.

Moss Point State Championships

The Tigers have won 5 state titles. 1983, 1991, 1996, 1997, and 2000.

A: Well, we are returning 36 seniors this season. We have lots of depth on both sides of the ball. However, our offensive line is young, and we still have some holes to fill regarding the line. We have seven starters returning defensively.  

Q: Who do you see getting things done offensively this season?

A: Offensively, we are led by our two-quarterback system in Joseph Kirkland and Quayshawn Williams. Both guys do outstanding jobs at the quarterback position. Our running game is handled by JoJo Snell, Reggie Matthews and Byron James. We are deep at the receiving position; Darius Stallworth has already stepped up big for us this season.  

Q: And defensively?

A: We are returning some seniors defensively. At defensive back, Williams and Josh Richardson really get things done for us. We still have some spots to fill throughout our defense. At linebacker, we have Josh Jones and Keith Barkley, and at defensive end we have Gabriel King. Barkley had a great game Friday night with 13 total tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.  

Q: You guys had a great game Friday night against Picayune … your thoughts?

Moss Point v. Picayune

The Tigers defense worked hard Friday night against the Maroon Tide.

A: We got started quickly Friday night against the Maroon Tide. We drove down and got a field goal. We had a big interception and drove down the field 80 yards to set up a Byron James touchdown run.  Reggie Matthews had big run of 52 yards. We got up 17-0 early in the second quarter. Picayune came back and scored on us, but our guys responded right back. Williams hit Stallworth on an 18-yard pass for a touchdown. You know, we took advantage of some opportunities. The game was a lot closer than what a lot of people see in the paper. 

Q: How do you feel about the new addition of the 6A classification and how does it affect football in your area?

A: I think it is a great thing for high school football in the state of Mississippi. It really balances the playing field for a lot of smaller schools who had to play larger county schools with over a thousand students. The range is cut down between schools.  

Q: Walk us through a typical game day, from start to finish.

The Moss Point Tigers

The "Iron Cats" pounding iron. The 2009 theme for those players who worked hard over the summer.

A: First I get up and get my coffee (laughing). We really try and push a "low-key" Friday. In 4th block, our guys come in and we have some quiet reflection time and reading. We also take advantage of this time for academic tutoring. Whatever the guys need, we are here to help them out. Next, the coaches review film, talk about our game plan. We then show the film to our guys. We are truly blessed with a group of guys who want to watch film and strive to get better, instead of watching some movie. … Around 4 p.m., we have our pre-game meal. Then we come back to the field house and begin taping ankles, etc. Once the taping begins, we go to a silent locker room. Around 5:30 to 6:40 we talk about how to prepare for the next level, and what is necessary during this time to prepare for college football. We tell the guys to "clear your mind."

Q: You replaced long-time head coach Jerry Alexander. Your thoughts on stepping into such a prominent role.

A: Those are shoes that will NEVER be filled. I have to remind myself not to focus on that, if I did I would be a second-rate coach. Coach Alexander taught us all so many things. For instance: how to prepare, how to focus, that players must improve week-to-week. The city of Moss Point has high expectations, they expect nothing less than a gold ball in trophy case each season. Anything less is simply not acceptable. That is a good thing.

Q: Moss Point has been known as a dominant force in Mississippi high school football for the last 20 years … 

A: I saw a commercial the other day for the Alabama spring game, it talked about their winning seasons and great players that have moved through that program. At the end of the commercial, something stuck out to me. It said, "At some places, teams play football, but at Alabama, we LIVE it!" That is exactly what happens in Moss Point. In the 80's and 90's we had six middle schools, which produced a lot of competitive athletes. We are working hard to encourage a more competitive spirit among younger players. We are struggling with numbers, not with the number of athletes. 

Q: What do you enjoy most about game days?

A: The game! I enjoy the chess match. I love watching the emotions of the team and of the game. If you look at a high school football game, it is a laboratory of life. There are highs, lows, frustrations and cheers. Our guys prepare all week and every Friday night they come out and take their test in front of 3,000 to 5,000 fans. Imagine, a student preparing for a math test all week, and on Friday night they come out to the stadium, pull their desk out on the field, and have thousands of people cheering them on. Think if everything in life had that kind of competitive spirit.  

Q: What is something that you say to your team before they hit the field each Friday night?

A: Why save it up? Give it all you got! Let everything go. We are never guaranteed another Friday night, so give it everything. Also, we tell them to play your role, we cannot all be heroes. A special teams player that makes a game-saving tackle is just as important as a quarterback or linebacker. 

article updated on 09/2/09 15:16

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