For St. Stanislaus head coach Bill Conides and Poplarville head coach Jay Beech, the Rock-a-Chaws and Hornets matchup will be as intriguing as the previous two contests.
St. Stanislaus won a nailbiter 48-41 last year on Poplarville's home turf after losing 82-80 to the Hornets the year before.
"The last two games we've played were definitely ones for the books," Poplarville senior offense and defensive lineman Jake Smith said. "The first one, 82-80, that rarely ever happens. Record-setting games for both of us. Last year, unfortunately, we fell short after a tremendous effort from both sides and plan on having the same game [Friday] night."
"We want to be district champs which means we need to win out in our district schedule," Poplarville senior center Justin Dugas said. "St. Stanislaus is the next team on our schedule so that's who we're focused on."
The WLOX Game of the Week features undefeated St. Stanislaus (7-0, 2-0) hosting Poplarville (6-1, 2-0). The winner of Friday night's game in Bay St. Louis will control their destiny in hopes of attaining the region 8-4A championship.
"[Poplarville] is going to play hard-nosed football on offense and defense," Conides said. "We know that we're going to get a challenge. They're a good football team."
The Hornets are one of the best running teams in the state of Mississippi, averaging nearly 334 yards on the ground per game. Senior Malik Lucas leads the Hornets in yards per game (123.0) and yards per carry (9.6).
"We're a power offense," Poplarville senior wide receiver Will Holliday said. "We run the ball. We do throw the ball sometimes but we need to get better in some areas [like] turnovers and penalties."
"We have a lot of people that block for each other," Poplarville senior running back Anthony Martin said. "We don't have any individuals. We have a lot of execution on every play and every down. We just never try to give up."
The Rock-a-Chaws have posted at least 49 points in the last three games, including a 55-22 win over rival Bay High one week ago. Sophomore quarterback Myles Brennan, who leads the nation in passing yards according to MaxPreps, completed 25-of-33 passes for 394 yards and five touchdowns in the game.
"You get excited for those big games," Beech said. "We've had fun all week trying to replicate what they do. You're never going to be able to replicate what they do but we've tried. We've tried throwing the ball around and gotten better since Monday. We've worked on St. Stanislaus for a while now but really hit it hard Monday and we've gotten better on what we're trying to do."