On Friday the 12 and 0 Poplarville Hornets defeated St. Stanislaus 42-31 to advance to the Class 4A South State semifinals. The Hornets travel to Purvis 7:00 p.m. on Friday in a Class 4A quarterfinal clash. During the regular season, Poplarville defeated Purvis 69 to 34 on October 20.
Poplarville head coach Jay Beech runs an explosive Wing-T offense that has relied heavily on running back Austin Bolton.
The senior has been banged up and missed two games with an injury. In the ten games he has played, Bolton has rushed for 1,906 yards and has bolted into the end zone 27 times.
Coach Beech said, "He's looking better then ever. I think he's going to be near a hundred percent come Friday."
Bolton said, "Injuries aren't going to stop me. Just got to keep going hard and grinding and we'll make it back to state."
Other running backs have responded with Bolton at less than a hundred-percent. 5-foot-4 165 pound sophomore Cory Knight rushed for 152 yards and cracked the end zone three times in the win over St. Stanislaus. He has 740 yards rushing on the season with 13 touchdowns.
"He's extremely tough, "said Coach Beech. "He has great balance. He just hits the hole with a burst with an explosion, not many kids can."
6-foot-1, 208 pound senior fullback Roosevelt Raine has powered his way for 806 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also plays defensive end due to an injury.
Over the last two years, the Hornets have outscored the 6 and 6 Tornadoes 107 to 40.
Raine said, "We take it day-by-day. We're ready for every team we play. We don't take nobody lightly. We beat 'em and we're going to go back in the game with a better focus, a harder grind."
While Hornets players are thinking and concentrating on one team, Purvis, fans are looking ahead to a possible Poplarville-East Central Class 4A Showdown for the South State title on November 24.
First things first, Poplarville must take care of Purvis and East Central must defeat South Pike on the road Friday night.
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