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Three state titles and still getting better: MS Coast archery team establishes dynasty

Scarlett Rouse has had it pretty easy in her first year at the helm of the D’Iberville archery program.

Senior leadership, a strong staff and a solid foundation left by a former MHSAA Archery Coach of the Year turned a back-to-back state champion into a three-peating dynasty.

“Coach (David) Barber laid such a great foundation that it was easy to come into this team and watch them do their thing,” Rouse told the Sun Herald. “They had such a solid foundation to work with and critique along the way, but these kids really are such amazing talents.”

The Warriors took home their third straight Class III state championship this month behind the performance of senior standout Landon Garrett and his 21 bull’s-eyes in 30 shots. D’Iberville scored 3,307 points to edge Germantown for the championship, sending the senior class out with a dynasty firmly in place.

“It’s a lot of practice, teamwork and discipline,” Garrett said on what creates a champion. “You can’t just go into practice every day and just mess around. You have to know what you’re doing and that corresponds to the game. It’s not just an individual sport, but it’s a team sport also.”

Senior Landon Garrett, a member of the D’Iberville High School archery team, aims his shots during a practice at D’Iberville High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Senior Landon Garrett, a member of the D’Iberville High School archery team, aims his shots during a practice at D’Iberville High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

D’Iberville got a big showing from athletes around Garrett this season, including 15 bull’s-eyes from Avary Peterson and Rihanna McDonald and 13 from Chase Broussard.

Before this senior class arrived at DHS, the best the program had managed at state was a 17th place finish. Rouse credits former coach Barber for laying the foundation — and winning the first two titles — and assistant coach John Bingham, who began working on the archery staff four years ago.

“Just to watch these kids grow from ninth graders now up to my graduating class and being able to see the archers that are coming up next year that I’ve been able to watch the last four years, it means a lot to me watch them grow into the archers that we hoped they’d be by the time they were seniors,” Bingham said.

Bingham himself passes along the credit to the work ethic of his athletes. The season is short — running from February to April — but the archers asked for a heavier workload, going from three days of practice to four.

When spring break came around, it was the students who asked to come back to the school for practice and they did so for four hours a day all five days of the week in order to prepare for the state meet.

Eleventh grader Avary Peterson, a member of the D’Iberville High School archery team, lines up her shot during a practice at D’Iberville High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Eleventh grader Avary Peterson, a member of the D’Iberville High School archery team, lines up her shot during a practice at D’Iberville High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

“It’s just making sure that what you do in practice corresponds to the game, because in the game you have 20 to 30 people on the same line as you and you get nervous, but you can’t let those nerves get to you,” said Garrett — the leader and coach-on-the-floor, according to Rouse — on the importance of preparation. “You have to keep going and hope what you practice helps.”

D’Iberville has expectations of remaining at the top of the sport in the highest class in the state thanks to the foundation and leadership it has cultivated within.

“My junior class is probably going to be one of the best classes we’ve had,” Bingham said. “Looking at some of my ninth graders, when they became juniors and seniors, with the level they’re shooting at now, it’s probably going to blow my mind away.”

The D’Iberville High School archery team practices in the gym at D’Iberville High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
The D’Iberville High School archery team practices in the gym at D’Iberville High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Eleventh grader Avary Peterson, a member of the D’Iberville High School archery team, retrieves her arrows during a practice at D’Iberville High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Eleventh grader Avary Peterson, a member of the D’Iberville High School archery team, retrieves her arrows during a practice at D’Iberville High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Arrows from D’Iberville High School archery team members Avary Peterson, right, Michael Kinney, center, and Landon Garrett, left, hit their mark during a practice at D’Iberville High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Arrows from D’Iberville High School archery team members Avary Peterson, right, Michael Kinney, center, and Landon Garrett, left, hit their mark during a practice at D’Iberville High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.