MS Gulf Coast puts its top ranking on the line against Pearl River Thursday night in Poplarville

By A.J. Giardina – bio | email

POPLARVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Pearl River head coach Tim Hatten has a JUCO National Championship trophy under his belt.

Gulf Coast head coach Steve Campbell also has won a JUCO National Championship proving that both programs are among the nations elite.

Gulf Coast has a target on its back, entering Thursday's clash ranked number one in the nation, but Wildcats coach Tim Hatten says he's not using that to fire up his players.

Hatten said, "You know anytime you play in the South Division you play to win. I don't care if it's Gulf Coast, Jones, Southwest, East Central, whoever. You have to go out and try to remain perfect to be in the playoff hunt."@

Since Hatten has been calling the shots at Pearl River, he's 5 and 5 against Gulf Coast, with the Bulldogs taking control in recent years.

Bulldogs coach Steve Campbell says Pearl River will be ready.

"Pearl River is going to be a well coached football team, " exclaimed Campbell. "They have a lot of great talent, a lot of tradition. Big rivalry game and playing over there I'm sure it will be a packed house."

Offensively, the Wildcats and Bulldogs can pile up points and can do so quickly.  However, Pearl River and Gulf Coast take a different approach when pulling the trigger on offense.

Hatten stated, "I think anytime you play Gulf Coast you have to stop the run. Anytime you play Pearl River you have to stop the pass. And you want to make your opponent do something they're not comfortable doing and our goal is to try and slow the run down.  I don't think anybody can actually stop it."

Bragging rights will be on the line Thursday, and so will a possible National Championship depending on the final outcome.

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