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J’arius Warren of Long Beach anchors Navy defense

J’arius Warren

J’arius Warren turned in a phenomenal performance of fourteen tackles for Navy in a road game with their No. 1 football rival, Army.

As millions of viewers watched the nationally-televised game amid a dense fog in West Point, New York, the former Long Beach Bearcats standout shined as a Navy defensive end. The swift Midshipman is a dynamo on the field, but a good student as well in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Long Beach High graduate impressed United States Naval Academy (USNA) coaches and fans again this season. Warren saved his best game for the December 12, 2020, finale versus Army before CBS cameras.

The 22-year-old Mississippian “played lights out football’’ against Army, said Navy assistant coach Jerrick Hall.

A USNA junior, No. 94 entered the fall as the starter at defensive end after starting ten games at defensive tackle in 2019. The explosive Navy player recorded 44 tackles a year ago.

“From where he started two seasons ago until now, it’s night and day,’’ says Hall, Warren’s Navy position coach. “He puts in the work to make himself productive and play hard. He keeps getting better and better.’’

J’arius Warren

Hall says he is excited to see what’s in store for the incoming Navy senior in 2021.

“Seniors are supposed to play their best football. I’m excited to see what J’arius can do. Mentally, he’s in a good place. At 6’2”, 260 pounds, he can run.’’

While Navy lost 15 to 0 (the score stood at 3-0 to start the 4th quarter), the 121st annual contest provided memorable moments.

“The Army-Navy game is like the Super Bowl around here,’’ Warren said. The game was played at West Point’s Miche Stadium for the first time since 1941 when America entered World War II. Playing in the service academies’ rivalry game, he said, “was an awesome experience.’’

After finishing the 2019 season with an 11-2 record, including a Liberty Bowl triumph over Kansas State, Navy slipped to a disappointing 3-7 mark in 2020. Navy expects to bounce back under Coach Ken Niumatalolo in 2021 against teams like Air Force, Notre Dame, Memphis, Cincinnati and Army. Navy will battle the Army Black Knights at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on December 11, 2021.

Navy’s 2020 football campaign was a difficult year marked by COVID-19 heartache for so many people.

“COVID was a huge problem worldwide,’’ Warren said. “I personally had family members affected by this virus, as well.’’ Navy football officials installed health protocols “to maximize our fight against it.’’

Warren cherishes his time in Annapolis as a Navy student-athlete.

“I love that we are a program that is truly built upon love for one another,” he said. “The brotherhood is what I love most. Whatever you go through, no matter how big or small, you aren’t going through it alone.”

His message to potential recruits? Navy welcomes men and women seeking challenges “you never thought possible,’’ he said. “Everyone that I know who has done time at USNA is thriving.”

Warren is pondering his career plans. He’s interested in marine ground or surface warfare.

Originally from Gulfport, Warren credits former Long Beach Bearcats head coach Forrest Williams along with assistants Jed Mooney and Bob Reeves for preparing him for NCAA Division 1 football.

“They helped me develop a passion for football and develop as a man,” said Warren. “Teachers also played a role in my academics.”

The Long Beach Bearcats star linebacker turned down offers from schools like Tulane and Louisiana-Monroe to sign with Navy. Warren spent his first year at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island, to get ready for the rigors of life at USNA.

His family played a major role every step of the journey. His mom, Vertilla Rogers, a healthcare worker, “prepared me for the real world by making me understand the power of respecting authority.’’

His dad, the late Claude Gorden, Sr., passed away while Warren was a Long Beach High student.

J’arius Warren is not the family’s only athlete. The Mississippi high school shot put champ his senior year, Warren beat his brother’s previous record. Away from football and his studies, Warren enjoys playing tennis, going hunting and cheering for the New Orleans Saints.

Navy football recruiters found the right spot down South as they encouraged the Long Beach senior to become a Midshipman in 2017. Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana are always loaded with talented student-athletes, Coach Hall said.

“The Long Beach community is fantastic,” said Warren. He says when he returns to the Harrison County community, everyone “treats you as if you were family.’’

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