POPLARVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Jack Wright has never personally coached in any Gulf Coast / Pearl River contest, but the Bulldogs head coach is already well aware of how much this heated rivalry means to South Mississippi.
“Down here, if somebody went to a community college, it’s one of the two," Wright said. "South (Division) standings or state standings, whatever it is, you can throw all that stuff out. It’s Gulf Coast, Pearl River.”
The rivalry dates back to 1926, and means just as much to the communities as it does the players of each school.
“These guys played against each other throughout their whole high school career too, so they all know each other," Pearl River head coach Ted Egger said.
“Most kids go to Gulf Coast, but some kids from (South Mississippi) want to take a different route," said Pearl River wide receiver Tyler Polk, who played prep football at St. Martin. "We just want to beat our boys.”
Gulf Coast (5-2, 2-2) enters the game ranked 19th in the country, while Pearl River (1-6, 1-4) comes in with just one win on the year. But ask anyone involved in Saturday’s game, and they’ll tell you, none of that matters come kickoff.
“Actually, I was just at the store and some man told me ‘it don’t matter the records, (PRCC) gonna come to play,’” Gulf Coast tight end Denzel Carter said.
“Last year, they beat us, so right now we’re just trying to get back above them," Gulf Coast quarterback Chance Lovertich said. "Right now, they have the upper advantage on us and we’re trying to get a win in our column.”
“They (are) looking to go to the playoffs and we’re trying to spoil their playoff,” Polk said.
PRCC leads the all-time series 55-39-1, but Gulf Coast has won 10 of the last 12 meetings. Kickoff set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Dobie Holden Stadium.