The Poplarville Hornets have hit their stride in 2016. Poplarville is a team that has enough talent to crack the 4A State championship game on November 3rd in Starkville. First things first...the Hornets entertain Quitman in a second round playoff game Friday night at 7:00 in Pearl River County.
Poplarville head coach Jay Beech and his Hornets have distinguished themselves as contenders. Since opening the season with a 35-14 road loss at St. Martin on the Hornets have flown under the win column 9 consecutive games. The senior class has excelled.
"We've got so much experience in that class, "said Beech. "I think we have 18 kids and most of them are starters. A lot of them have been starting for three years now."
Poplarville runs a highly efficient Wing-T offensive attack and 230 pound fullback Jesse Pernell is one of those three-year starters. Entering the Quitman game Pernell has exploded for 1,217 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Pernell said, "When I was younger man I was an offensive lineman. I was center when I first started playing football."
Once he made the transition to running back...Pernell's football career was energized.
"I knew if I touched the ball I knew nobody was going to bring me down and to this day I still stick to that, "said Pernell.
5-8, 170 pound junior tailback Austin Bolton gives Poplarville a one-two punch coming out of the offensive backfield. Bolton has 1,194 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns . He dedicates each touchdown to his dad.
Bolton said, "Well my dad died when I say I was 14 or 15-years-old."
Bolton says right before his dad had passed away, he changed his jersey number to 5.
"I originally had Number 10 and I ended up wearing number 5 and he died on the fifth. "Bolton said. "And every time I scored I point up."
Sophomore quarterback Antonio Barnes keeps defenses honest, highly capable of passing the ball, when defenses are least expected...connecting on big plays.
A Poplarville win over Quitman on Friday coupled with a St. Stanislaus "W" at Mendenhall, would set up a monumental Friday Night Football Showdown in the 4A South State semifinals on November 18.
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