For the last two seasons, Picayune-Poplarville has been one of the more entertaining high school football battles in South Mississippi.
The teams have split the last two games in the series with the Hornets winning 27-24 on their home field in 2017 and the Maroon Tide winning 28-20 in Picayune a year ago.
On Friday night, Poplarville will stand on its home field as a significant underdog against a red hot Picayune squad.
Poplarville has been banged up early on and and the team’s defense has allowed a total of 107 points the last two weeks. Mandeville, Louisiana, quarterback Devon Tott threw seven touchdowns in a 65-35 win over Poplarville on Sept. 6. Last week, Poplarville lost 42-22 at D’Iberville — a team that Picayune trounced 41-6 on Aug. 30.
While Poplarville sits at 1-3, Picayune rolls in with a mark of 3-0 thanks to an offense that may rank among the most potent to take the field for head coach Dodd Lee. Picayune senior running back Cameron Thomas had a breakout game last week in a 54-47 win over Gulfport with 29 carries for 343 yards and three touchdowns.
Poplarville’s star running back, senior Chase Shears, was held out last week against D’Iberville, putting his status in some question for Friday’s game.
My pick: Picayune 38, Poplarville 20.
Here’s how I see Friday’s other games playing out on the Coast:
D’Iberville 38, Hammond (La.) 10: After Biloxi thumped Hammond 34-0 last week, it’s hard to see how the outcome being any different with the Warriors (2-1) making the drive to Louisiana. With junior Dwight Williams mixed in at quarterback with senior Jayden Walley, opposing defenses have to account for D’Iberville’s passing game.
Biloxi 28, Stone High 24: It was only a matter of time before Stone High coach John Feaster got his team turned around after a slow start. The Tomcats (1-2) toppled a previously undefeated Hancock squad, 29-17, in Perkinston last week. Junior K.K. Kendrick has turned into a strong first option for Biloxi (3-0) at running back with 41 carries for 257 yards prior to Friday’s game in Perkinston.
Harrison Central 21, Slidell 14: The Red Rebels (2-1) have nice skill players on offense, but the defense may be the strength of thesquad. Pascagoula and East Central, a pair of teams that strong ground games, have put up only 27 total points against Harrison Central. Slidell, the host team, is 1-1.
East Central 35, Moss Point 17: We’ll find out if the East Central defense can hold up against a good passing game. Moss Point junior quarterback Ruben Lee has completed 52.6 percent of his passes for 717 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions in three games. His top two targets, junior Christian Millender and sophomore Larry Simmons, have a total of 36 receptions for 661 yards and seven scores. While Moss Point can hurt you in the passing game, it’ll be tough to slow down an East Central rushing attack that is averaging 8.6 yards a carry headed into Friday’s game in Hurley.
Gautier 21, Greene County 14: If Gautier (1-2) holds onto the ball, they can hang with any team in the southern half of the state. Greene County, which is 1-3 and playing at home, picked up its first win of the season last week in a 25-6 game at Quitman, but points haven’t been easy to come by.
Vancleave 31, South Jones 27: Several first-year coaches have made strong debuts on the Coast and Vancleave’s Kevin Fant can be considered in that group. The Bulldogs are 2-2 and have a decent shot at a road win in Ellisville Friday night. Sophomore running back Dayan Bilbo had a breakout game in a win over Long Beach last week, running 23 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
North Pike 31, Pass Christian 30: North Pike is 1-3, but it has played a difficult schedule up to this point. Pass Christian had a hard time slowing down West Harrison’s ground game last week in a 41-38 loss. North Pike senior quarterback Alijah Martin has run 59 times for 721 yards and seven touchdowns while throwing for 480 yards and five touchdowns. He holds offers from Southern Miss, Arkansas State, Tulane and UAB.
St. Patrick 24, Enterprise (Brookhaven) 14: A pair of sophomores have led the way on offense for the Irish with quarterback Kaleb Chatman and running back Charlie Olsen both clearing 150 yards a week ago in a win over Pope John Paul II. St. Patrick is 2-1 while Enterprise stands at 1-3.
Resurrection 27, Mt. Olive 0: RCS (3-0, 1-0) has gone eight straight quarters without giving up a point. Considering Mt. Olive has only scored 20 points over the last three games, I’m liking the Eagles’ chances of keeping that streak going on the road. Junior Will Clemens has four interceptions to lead the RCS defense.
Bay High 28, Perry Central 20: This is a rare Thursday night game in New Augusta. Perry Central rolls in at a respectable 2-2, but the Bulldogs fell 33-6 to Forrest County AHS on Aug. 23. That’s the same FCAHS team that Bay High beat 17-14. Bay High stood at 4-0 entering the game thanks to a strong ground game that has produced 1,010 yards, 14 touchdowns and an average of 7.3 yards a carry.
Sun Herald Top 5
1. Picayune (3-0)
2. Harrison Central (2-1)
3. Gulfport (2-2)
4. Biloxi (3-0)
5. St. Martin (4-0)