The Poplarville Hornets opened the 2016 season losing to Class 6A St. Martin 35 to 14. After that setback, the Hornets caught fire and blazed a trail of 12 consecutive victories,captured the Region 7-4A title, and won the Class 4A South State Championship to advance to the title game.
Lafayette held off the Hornets 27-12 to secure the 4A state championship trophy.
Despite the loss, it did not diminish what Poplarville accomplished in 2016...a first-ever trip to the state finals.
Coach Jay Beech said, "There was something burning inside them that made them want to compete on the football field. We felt like this year we had a really good chance of making a run."
A big reason for Poplarville's productive season was the Hornets Wing-T offensive attack. Senior fullback Jesse Pernell ripped-off 1,830 rushing yards and scored 27 touchdowns. Junior tailback Austin Bolton bolted for 1,746 yards and 21 touchdowns.
"Our kids have bought into the Wing-T, "said Beech. "We run it real well here Poplarville and we're going to stick with it. I learned it under coach Eric Collins who is now at D'Iberville. So, a lot of the credit I've got to give to him."
Jay Beech is the 2016 WLOX Coach of the Year.
He said, "There's no better feeling running out of that tunnel as a player. The only thing close to it is being a coach."
In three seasons Jay Beech has guided Poplarville to 29 wins and 10 losses.
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