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Ross starts new era for Long Beach Bearcats football

By Andy Kanengiser

Ryan Ross is staying positive as he begins his first season as head coach of the Long Beach Bearcats football team.

Like people worldwide, the Mississippian faces major challenges this summer and beyond stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You just roll with it,” Coach Ross says. “I’m happy we’re getting to play.”

After a blitz of Zoom meetings, individual workouts, and overseeing team practices, he’s getting to know the seventy-six Bearcats players. Enthusiasm levels are off the charts, despite the global health emergency.

“The excitement is there on the part of the kids,” said Ross

Football equipment, weights and much more get regularly sanitized on the Long Beach High campus. Players spread out as much as possible as they work out at the stadium. With new health guidelines in place, it’s basic training 101 as the players get ready for the new season.

“Like everybody else, we are using the same tactics,” Ross says.

Certainly, Coach Ross is helping drive the excitement on Long Beach football fields. He was successful as head football coach of the Ocean Springs Greyhounds for nine seasons. He compiled a 61-45 record, leading Ocean Springs to the playoffs six times.

At Long Beach, Ryan Ross succeeded Philip Pigott, who resigned after only two years with a record of 4-18. In the midst of hot South Mississippi summer days and a pandemic, Ross is staying focused on grabbing wins this fall. He’s helping Bearcats players buy into winning attitudes early on.

So far, so good, says the new football coach in the Friendly City.

“I love it. I love the kids,” he says. From parents to teachers to Long Beach administrators, Ross says he is pleased with his warm reception. “We’ve got a very supportive and good school system.”

The first date on the schedule is an August 28 scrimmage with Pass Christian. The following week, the Bearcats will be on the road versus West Harrison to begin the season on September 4.

But, due to many new health procedures in place, Long Beach fans can’t just walk up to the West Harrison front gate, purchases a ticket and see the game. Bearcats fans must buy tickets in advance at Long Beach High. Stadium capacity will be at twenty-five percent for games all season, Ross noted.

In fall 2019 or pre-COVID-19 days, things were much different for people everywhere, including football coaches.

At Ocean Springs High football contests on Friday nights, fans “packed the house,” Ross said. There were six hundred season ticket holders and a great atmosphere from one game to the next.

Due to COVID-19 challenges, “it won’t be that way,” he said. Long Beach and high school games statewide must impose limits on fan attendance this fall.

Still, he hopes some things don’t change. He says the Long Beach High band is a talented bunch and always does a tremendous job supporting the Bearcats.

Coach Ross says he hopes the Long Beach band will “play music as loud as they can.”

Highlights of the Bearcats 2020 season include home games against St. Stanislaus on September 18 and a September 25 contest with the Gautier Gators.

Other home games include: Pearl River Central on October 9, and October 23 is booked for a Homecoming battle with Hattiesburg. The home schedule wraps up with Pascagoula on November 6. All games kick off at 7 p.m.

Road games for Long Beach at 7 p.m. on the fall slate include East Central on October 2, Picayune on October 16 and Wayne County on October 30.

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