POPLARVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Poplarville head coach Jay Beech and his coaching staff have guided the defending South State champion Hornets to 13 consecutive wins. East Central head coach Seth Smith and his coaching staff have guided the Hornets to 12 wins and no losses.
Poplarville features running back Austin Bolton. the 5-foot-8, 170 pound senior has rushed for 2,057 yards and 27 touchdowns, netting 10.8 yards a carry. East Central features running back Tony Brown. The 5-foot-8, 187 pound senior has generated 2,376 yards rushing and 42 touchdowns, netting 10.8 yards a carry.
Brown said, "I'm just going to go into this game like it's a regular game. But I'm pretty sure it's going to be a great atmosphere. Both teams have great fan bases. It's going to be pretty exciting."
Bolton missed two games during the regular season with a knee injury. So how is the knee?
Bolton said, "I feel great. We just have to come out here, bust our butt every day. You know everybody has been talking about this game and now it's here."
Poplarville head coach Jay Beech said, "The past two weeks he's rushing for well over a hundred yards. So, I think he's back to 100 percent now and he's playing great. Blocking great."
East Central head coach Seth Smith is a vocal leader, while Poplarville's Jay Beech is more laid back. However, both have proven their coaching talents and leadership by directing their respective teams under the win column.
Smith says he and Beech are best of friends. They grew up together and both graduated from Pearl River Central High School.
Beech said, "He was one of my best friends. He graduated a year ahead of me. We played Little League ball together. We both grew up staying at each others house. Know his mod and dad really well. They're great people. Played high school together and junior college football. Jay, he's a great guy. He was an excellent football player and he's a phenomenal coach. So it's kind of neat how its transpired to go against one of your good friends."
Coach Beech was complementary of his friend Seth Smith. He said, "They are well coached. Got a great scheme."
They are best friends, but when the game kicks off Friday night, they will put away their friendship for a few hours in an attempt to lead their respective teams under the win column and punch a ticket to the Class 4A Championship game set for December 2 at 3:00 p.m. on the campus of Mississippi State.