School Spotlight: Philadelphia High School (Philadelphia, MS)

Philadelphia High School is a class 2A public school located in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The black, red, and white Tornadoes opened doors to the high school in 1920. Philadelphia has three state titles from years 1927, 1928, and 1992. Along with the their state championships, the Tornadoes have 19 district titles, capturing the most recent one in the 2022 season. The team is under David Frey, who is entering his 5th year as head coach, 8th year at Philadelphia.

Coach David Frey started out at Nanih Waiya High School before going to Leake Central for a season. After that, he went to Kosciusko High School for one year prior to taking the defensive coordinating job at Philadelphia High School, under head coach Teddy Dyess. Coach Frey stayed on through the next coach Bobby Hall. When Hall left in 2018, Coach Frey took the interim head coaching job, and later the full position.

The Tornadoes coaching staff consists of three coaches. Dusty Alford is coming into his second season as defensive coordinator for the team. Herschel Smith is the offensive and defensive line coach on the team, who was actually was head coach for Philadelphia in their 1992 state championship run. Coach Barry South does special teams for the Tornadoes. Along with these coaches, Philadelphia has professionals come in and help out with their athletes.

The Philadelphia football team was a young crew in the 2022 season. Yet, this did not stop them from having a successful season with a 7-6 record, 4-0 in their division, and an appearance in the third round of the playoffs. The 2023 Tornadoes will be returning all but two players on the offense, and three on the defense. I had the opportunity to speak with Coach Frey about his team at Philadelphia, and he was able to spotlight some of the key talent he will have on the field this upcoming season:

Dee Burnside is one of the top athletes on the team. Burnside is in the class of 2024, and will likely be going to college as a wide receiver. Burnside was moved to quarterback due to a teammates injury. He is listed at 6’1 165 pounds. Dee is a pure athlete who is known for having lightning speed and a high football IQ. Burnside will have one more season on the Tornadoes.

No. 3 Keathan Graham is listed at 5’10 180 pounds in the class of 2024. Graham plays defensive back, and wide receiver/ running back on the offensive side. Like his teammate Burnside, Graham possesses lightning speed with a 4.4 40, and is also known to love the weight room. Graham has received a few division one offers thus far, but plans on expanding his options further his senior season.

No. 8 Bernard Parker Jr. is the Tornadoes strong safety, listed at 5’11” 175 pounds. Parker is in the class of 2025, and will have two more seasons at Philadelphia High School. As a sophomore, Bernard put up good stats with 78 tackles, 6 pass break-ups, an interception, and a sack. He is an exciting player to watch and has had colleges show interest in him recently.

No. 26 Imarion Black is Philadelphia’s middle linebacker and sometimes running back. Black is listed at 5’10” 185 pounds. He is a three year starter for the Tornadoes and will help lead the team with experience in 2023.

No. 26 MLB/RB – Imarion Black

No. 6 CJ Rush is one of team’s top running backs. Rush is in the class of 2025, giving him two more seasons on the Tornadoes. He is a player who shows his abilities every play. Coach Frey has big expectations for this running back over the next few years.

Philadelphia High School has a football program that generates exceptional talent in every class. The Tornadoes are a team on the rise in 2023, and could have a big impact among the 2A class in Mississippi for years to come.