BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - If high school teams have aspirations of cracking the playoffs, it's time for them to make their move. Yes, the regular season is coming to a close.
Region 8-4A is down to the final two weeks before the state playoffs kickoff on November 3. Region 4-6A, Region 4-5A and Region 4-1A open the playoffs on November 10.
A Friday Night Football Showdown game that should provide plenty of fireworks sends undefeated Hattiesburg (8-0, 4-0) on the road at Picayune (7-1, 4-0) Friday night at 7:00. The winner will lockup the Region 4-5A championship. Tigers junior quarterback Jarod Conner leads the region with 1,247 yards passing with 13 touchdowns. Besides his passing ability,Connor is a threat to tuck the ball in and take off running. He has 634 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Picayune head coach Dodd Lee will have his defensive unit keeping an extra eye the elusive quarterback.
The Maroon Tide rely heavily on running the football and senior Shaun Anderson has responded. Entering Friday's game, Anderson has ripped off 1,531 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. Last week Picayune out slugged Long Beach 47-26. Hattiesburg blasted Wayne County 60-18.
Stone, Long Beach and Wayne County share second place in the region 4-5A standings, all at 2-2. Stone (4-3, 2-2) entertains Wayne County (4-4, 2-2) in Perkinston on the campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The Tomcats under Coach John Feaster have used a host of running backs during the season. Kentrell McCray tops the Tomcats rushing game. He has 603 yards and 5 touchdown, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. 205 pound junior running back Trey Arrington leads Stone with 7 touchdowns. Arrington, Enrique Whaley and Jakalyn Green have combined for 1, 072 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns.
Wayne County head coach Todd Mangum relies on senior quarterback Zabryan Jackson to drive the War Eagles offense down field. The 147 pound senior makes big plays using his arm and his feet. He has 839 total yards of offense and 9 touchdowns.
Long Beach opened the season with 5 straight wins, but have dropped 3 straight. The Bearcats under head coach Forrest Williams entertain West Harrison (1-7, 0-4). Sophomore quarterback Cade Crosby has passed for 1,175 yards and 9 touchdowns. Bearcats running back Dennis Andrews has rushed for 1,071 yards and 17 touchdowns. Junior quarterback Dayln Anderson runs the Hurricanes offense. He has 481 passing yards with 7 touchdowns and 263 rushing yards and 4 TDs.
In one other Region 4-5A game Gautier (2-6, 1-3) travels to Pearl River Central (1-7, 1-3).
The Friday Night Football Showdown will follow three Region 4-6A games Gulfport at D'Iberville, Hancock at Harrison Central, and Pascagoula at Biloxi. Gulfport (5-3, 4-0) is in the drivers seat having won four straight games. Coach Eddie Pierce has seen his offense and defense come together and the results have been positive. Junior quarterback T.Q. Newsome overcame his early injury and the end result has been 4 consecutive victories. He has been running the option to perfection. Another positive sign has the been the play of sophomore running back Jordan Lee, who has seen his number called more often over the past few weeks.
D'Iberville (3-5, 2-2) is tied with Biloxi and Harrison Central for third place in the region standings. Head coach Eric Collins needs his Warriors to play a solid game in all phases of football to have a chance in beating the Admirals. Senior running back Ja'Quavis Foster leads the D'Iberville ground game with 705 yards and 5 touchdowns. He'll face a solid Admirals defense.
The Hancock at Harrison Central game will also be featured on the Friday Night Football Showdown. Hancock (6-2, 3-1) suffered a loss to Gulfport two weeks ago, but rebounded in a big way last week by mowing down D'Iberville 56-28. Junior quarterback Caleb Garcia has ignited the Hawks offense and it helps that he has a host of outstanding receivers. Garcia has passed for 1,420 yards and 11 touchdowns. Brooks Rayburn has snagged 19 passes for 391 yards and 6 touchdowns. Marquis Cherry has 21 receptions for 485 yards and 3 TDs. Running back Rondell Womack leads the Hawks rushing attack with 743 yards and 6 touchdowns. He's also a threat catching passes coming out of the backfield.
Harrison Central (3-5, 2-2) dropped a 33-14 decision to arch-rival Gulfport last week. The Red Rebels will attack the Hancock defense with one of the top running backs in the state. Keon Moore enters the Hawks game with 1,275 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
Biloxi (2-6, 2-2) will have the home field advantage Friday night hosting Pascagoula (3-5, 1-3). The Indians ran out of gas last Friday against St. Martin. The Yellow Jackets beat the Indians 31-3. The Panthers pulled out a thriller over Ocean Springs 31-30 and have relied heavily on running back Trey Abney.
St. Martin (4-4, 1-3) got back under the win column in a convincing win over Biloxi. The Yellow Jackets must defeat Ocean Springs (3-5, 1-3) to remain in the hunt for a playoff slot. Likewise, the Greyhounds, who have the home field advantage, need to beat St. Martin to keep their playoff hopes alive. Anything can happen, but time is running out.
Region 3-6A ranks George County (2-7, 1-3) travels to Terry (5-3, 2-2).
East Central has been on a tear all-season long. The Hornets (7-0, 3-0) grabbed sole possession of first-place in the Region 8-4A ranks by blowing past St. Stanislaus 41-7 last week. East Central travels to Bay High (0-8, 0-3) on Friday. Coach Seth Smith has built a rock solid defensive unit at East Central and that doesn't bode well for the Tigers. Senior running back Tony Brown gives East Central a game changer. Brown has 1,405 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Brown has averaged 9.9 yards per carry.
Bay High's first-year head coach Benji Foreman has some talented players on his roster, led by senior quarterback Jaylan Wilson. He has passed for 698 yards and 6 touchdowns and leads the Tigers ground game with 947 yards and 8 TDs.
St. Stanislaus and East Central played to a 7-7 tie in the first-half of last week's game. When the rains came down, the Hornets stung the Rockachaws to pull away and claimed victory. The Rockachaws (4-4, 2-1) are in position to secure a playoff slot hosting Moss Point (2-7, 1-2) in the Bay. Jake Greer runs the St. Stanislaus offense through the air and on the ground.
In one other Region 8-4A clash, Pass Christian (4-4, 2-1) travels to Vancleave (2-6, 1-2). The Pirates defeated Moss Point 12-0 last week while the Bulldogs beat Bay High 40-23. The Pirates are in good position to lock up a playoff slot. A loss to the Bulldogs would open the door for Vancleave.
Undefeated Poplarville (8-0, 3-0) entertains Purvis (4-4, 3-1) looking to wrap-up the Region 7-4A title. Hornets running back Austin Bolton has been running wild. He has 1,540 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Resurrection (4-5, 3-1) has a big game on the road at Lumberton (6-2, 3-0). The Eagles under head coach Scott Sisson are trying to advance into the playoffs and have an outside shot at gaining the home field advantage. But Resurrection must get by the Panthers, who are tied with Stringer atop the Region 4-1A standings. Senior quarterback Blake Porter holds the key to the Eagles success. He has passed for 1,488 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Other games: St. Patrick (2-6, 0-3) is on the road at Clarkdale. Christian Collegiate Academy (4-4, 3-2) travels to Briarfield Academy (6-2, 4-1) in Louisiana. Christian Collegiate is in the hunt for a playoff berth in the MAIS District 2/8-Man Football standings.
Join A.J. Giardina and Patrick Clay at 10:15 p.m. on WLOX ABC-CBS on the Friday Night Football Showdown.
Get out and support your local high school football team.