BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Ten local high school football teams can no longer have any missteps if they want to continue marching towards a State Championship. A stumble during the playoffs results in an elimination from a title chase.
Class 6A has Gulfport, Hancock, D'Iberville. and St. Martin hitting the football turf tonight at 7:00.
The Region 4-6A champion Admirals have the home field advantage at Milner Stadium, a playoff date with Meridian. Starting quarterback T.Q. Newsome will be back behind center after suffering a shoulder injury a few weeks ago and his return comes at a great time. Backup quarterback Jalen Knight, who did an excellent job in Newsome's absence, was injured in the win over Biloxi last Friday.
Newsome is a play maker capable of making positive things happen with his feet or arm. He'll play a key role in moving the Gulfport offense against the 5 and 6 Wildcats. The Admirals defense has also been a major factor in Gulfport's success.
Hancock has excelled under first-year head coach Neil Lollar, having compiled a 9 and 2 record, 6 and 1 in Region 4-6A. The Hawks entertain pass happy Brandon in the Hawks first home playoff game in 27 years. Hancock mixes the run and pass behind quarterback Caleb Garcia and play makers Marquis Cherry, Rondell Womack and Brooks Rayburn.
D'Iberville travels to petal and will test the Panthers defense behind hard-nosed running back Ja'Quavis Foster. The Warriors defense will be tested by Panthers quarterback Jordan Wilson. He has passed for 2,399 yards and 21 touchdowns.
St. Martin running back Ham McGee carries the offensive load for the Yellow Jackets. St. Martin has a road game at Pearl. It's the first playoff game for the Yellow Jackets since 2003.
Picayune has a Class 5A home playoff game with Laurel. Last season the Golden Tornadoes rallied in the second-half to be the Maroon Tide 45-27 in the South State Championship game. Running back Shaun Anderson highlights a methodical Maroon Tide ground game. Anderson enters the playoff clash with 2,110 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns.
Stone travels to West Jones. A few weeks ago Tomcats head coach John Fester inserted standout defensive back Enrique Whaley at quarterback and the senior has responded in a positive way, igniting the Tomcats offense. He's a game breaker and game changer using his speed and quickness to explode through holes, finding the end zone.
Undefeated East Central has been rolling along and over the opposition. Head coach Seth Smith has built a solid foundation where excitement will be buzzing through the air in Hurley. Running back Tony Brown and company battle West Lauderdale in a Class 4A second-round playoff game.
Undefeated Poplarville is on the road at upset-minded St. Stanislaus. The defending Class 4A South State Champs love running the football. However, star running back Austin Bolton has been hampered by an injury and hasn't been at full-speed. Senior quarterback Jake Greer leads the Rockachaws offense and he's the key if St. Stanislaus is to upset the highly talented Hornets.
Resurrection made a long trek to French Camp for tonight's Class 1A playoff game. The Eagles have a losing record with 5 wins and 6 losses, but coach Scott Sisson had his team play a tough non-region schedule to prepare them for the playoffs. Quarterback Blake Porter will be slinging the football tonight. He has passed for 1,958 yards with 22 touchdowns. Patrick Roth is his favorite target. The Senior has 41 catches on the season for 740 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Tune-in to WLOX ABC-CBS for the Friday Night Football Showdown with A.J. Giardina and Hugh Keeton. Patrick Clay has the night off. He's the best man at a wedding in New Orleans.
Get out and support your local high school football team.