BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Hancock Hawks have been flying high for most of the season. Hancock faces the stiffest challenge so far in the 2017 high school football season, a Class 6A playoff road game at undefeated Pearl.
First-year head coach Neil Lollar has had his Hawks prepared each and every week, running off 10 wins in 12 games, coming off a 30-27 win over Brandon last week in the playoffs.
The Pearl Pirates enter Friday's playoff game having reeled off 13 consecutive wins and feature quarterback Jake Smithhart. He has passed for 2,307 yards and 26 touchdowns. Hancock also can score through the airways behind junior quarterback Caleb Garcia and a host of talent wide receivers and running backs who can come out of the backfield and make explosive plays once they catch the football. In last weeks win over Brandon, Garcia connected with junior wide receiver Brooks Rayburn for two big pass plays in the final minute, including the game winning touchdown to upended Brandon, punching the Hawks ticket to Pearl.
Stone will have the home field advantage tonight when the Tomcats entertain undefeated Hattiesburg in Perkinston on the campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in the Class 5A playoffs. It's a rematch of a game that was played on September 29. The 13-0 Tigers defeated the Tomcats 62-27. But Stone has improved offensively since head coach John Feaster inserted Enrique Whaley at quarterback. He's a difference maker, a talented athlete who can take it to the house on one of his jaunts in running the football down field. He's exciting to watch and if Stone is to pull an upset over Hattiesburg, the play of Whaley will be crucial.
Two local teams are projected to make their way to the Class 4A South State title game next week. But East Central and Poplarville must take care of business tonight.
The 11-0 Hornets travel to South Pike. East Central head coach Seth Smith has molded his football team into an offensive and defensive machine, leaving no prisoners. The Hornets have been highly explosive and polished off West Lauderdale last week 55-14. South Pike advanced with a 30-25 victory against Greene County. East Central running back Tony Brown is closing in on another outstanding season and he'll make a major role in tonight's game.
Poplarville head coach Jay Beech has guided his Hornets to a perfect 12-0 season. Poplarville is the defending Class 4A South State champs and will face Purivs on the road tonight. On October 20 the Hornets blasted Purvis 69-34. Despite the lopsided win, the Hornets will not take Purvis lightly. When it comes to the playoffs anything can happen.
Resurrection head coach Scott Sisson has watched his 6 and 6 Eagles catch fire of late, having posted four wins in their last five games. Resurrection has the home field advantage at Gautier High School tonight in another rematch. On October 20 Lumberton defeated the Eagles 26-22. Since that setback, Resurrection has exploded on the ground behind running back Jerry Johnson, who is back at full-speed after suffering an injury.
The Eagles also have the ability to throw the football behind senior quarterback Blake Porter. He has piled up 2,170 yards and 23 touchdowns this season.
Tune-in to the Friday Night Football Showdown at 10:15 p.m. on WLOX ABC-CBS. A.J. Giardina and Patrick Clay will have game highlights and all the scores.
Get out and support your local team!