• Long Beach Breeze

Bearcats Launch New Season With Win

By Andy Kanengiser, Long Beach Breeze reporter

Long Beach Bearcats excel at running the football. It’s an integral part of the team’s DNA.

A successful Bearcats ground game combined with a stout defense led to a 21-12 Long Beach win over the West Harrison Hurricanes. The victory was a terrific way to kick off the 2020 season.

The Labor Day triumph on the road in Gulfport launched the era of new head coach Ryan Ross. I’m proud of our guys – they played hard.’’ He wants to see the team’s winning ways continue well into the fall.

With one game in the books, the former Ocean Springs coach praised the Bearcats. “The defense did a great job,’’ including a critical fourth quarter stop to shut down a Hurricanes late drive.

There’s still much work to do. With more players on the roster this season, Long Beach is in better shape with added depth.

Staying positive is something Coach Ryan Ross instills during daily practices. He’s got confidence in starting quarterback Charlie Starita and his Bearcats teammates. A junior, Starita was impressive making his first start at quarterback. In the first quarter, Charlie made a one-yard plunge into the end zone to put Long Beach on the scoreboard. It capped an 80-yard opening drive. Look for No. 5 to keep making progress as the Bearcats signal caller.

On Labor Day weekend, Ross applauded Starita for the leadership he displayed on September 4. “He was the coach on the field.’’

In the first quarter, back Ahjiren Brooks ran for the next touchdown. The Bearcats soon were up 14-0.

Long Beach’s lone pre-season scrimmage was a competitive contest with Pass Christian in late August.

Long Beach High parent Lakkisha Burnett is pumped. Crowds were small due to the COVID pandemic as the 2020 season opened. Tickets were limited to two people per player. The Bearcats cheerleaders made the road trip.

Despite having fewer Bearcats fans in the stands, “attendees were thrilled and happy for the win,’’ Burnett said.

Parent Julie Williams was just as ecstatic. “Coach Ross has brought a new drive to the Bearcats which showed on the field Friday night. The kids showed more heart, drive and determination than previous years.’’

After the triumph over the Hurricanes, parent Cary Sturm saluted the new skipper. “Coach Ross seems to have reinforced the behavior you want to gain such as teamwork, pride, respect, integrity and discipline,’’ Sturm said. “These are not just Long Beach mottos, but a way of life.’’

There is little time to savor the victory. The Bearcats traveled to face Vancleave in Jackson County on September 11. The Bulldogs opened the season by losing a 31-29 nail biter to East Central.

Coach Ross anticipates the young Bearcats will be tested. “We’ve got our hands full,’’ he said. “We will do the best we can to get the kids ready.’’

The Bearcats returned home to battle St. Stanislaus on September 18 and Gautier on September 25. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Go Bearcats!

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