Mt. Olive Pirates picked to scuttle Region 4-1A

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 24, 2006

Just like last year, the Mount Olive Pirates are runawayfavorites to win the Region 4-1A football race. The Pirates,blessed with lots of speed, were Class 1A state runners-up toBenoit Ray Brooks in 2005, posting a 14-1 record.

Mt. Olive collected 8 first place votes and 81 total points tooutdistance runner-up Gulfport St. John which gathered 1 firstplace vote and 66 points. Biloxi Mercy Cross was chosen to finishthird with 1 first place vote and 57 points.

Stringer was fourth with 50 points, followed by NatchezCathedral with 49 and Bogue Chitto with 43. Salem was picked tofinished seventh with 37 points, followed by Enterprise and Dexterwith 30 each and West Lincoln with 10.

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Mt. Olive, coached by Jackie Simpson, is led by elusive tailbackJason McNair who rushed for 2,300 yards as a sophomore. QuarterbackJulius McNair returns. His favorite receiver is 6-foot-4 leaperAlfred McLaurin.

“We have skill players and speed,” said Simpson. “We are not bigenough to push somebody out of the way. We have to get them(runners) through a small hole and get them in the secondary.”

St. John, coached by Brad Rhodes, finished 10-2 last season.Both losses were to Mt. Olive, coming in the regular season and theplayoffs.

“St. John has a lot of bulk,” said Simpson. “They are big andstrong.”

The Eagles are directed by senior quarterback Jared Gidry andtailback Justin Manor.

Mercy Cross, coached by Rocky Gaudin, finished 8-3 last seasonand in third place. The Crusaders are led by quarterback BeauUnderwood and running back Sean Brauchi.

“The McNairs of Mt. Olive are real talented,” said Gauden.

Stringer, coached by Tim Yeager, finished in fifth place lastseason, just behind Enterprise, and missed the state playoffs,going 6-4. The Red Devils return a legion of starters, directed bysenior quarterback Charlie Fall..