BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - I began covering high school football on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1979. The East Central-Poplarville match up set for 7 p.m. Friday night in Poplarville... is probably the biggest game over that span of time, when you consider what's on the line. It's going to be an intriguing Friday Night Football Showdown for the Class 4A South State Championship.
Poplarville is undefeated under head coach Jay Beech. The Region 7-4A champs need a win over undefeated East Central to make a return trip to the Class 4A State Championship game.
Coach Beech said, "We've got to be ready. Bring a high level of intensity. Hope we can hold our own at the line of scrimmage and hope for the best. They're an attacking defense. It will probably be one of the best defenses we've played in the last few years."
East Central head coach Seth Smith appreciates what his players and assistant coaches have accomplished this season. They captured the Region 8-4A title and have won playoff games in dominating fashion.
Coach Smith said, " God is good. Just to be in this position practicing during Thanksgiving. Knowing that our kids are going to play in front of so many people. Poplaville's got a fantastic fan base too. So, they'll be overflowed. Our side will be overflowed. It should be an exciting game."
Poplarville quarterback Antonio Barnes is also thankful on Thanksgiving for another successful season.
"First we've got to thank God for the success we've had, "said Barnes. "But it's going to be great. Playing two undefeated teams coming together. Everybody wanting to see it. we're just ready for it."
East Central quarterback Riley Brown says the 2017 season has been special, the best season ever in school history setting the stage for a special game Friday night.
Brown said, "It's really huge. Both our fan bases and both teams have really worked hard to go undefeated and just think it's going to be an awesome atmosphere and even a better game."
Poplarville wing back Tyson Holston is excited and can't wait for Friday's showdown.
"These are the kinds of games you play for., "said Holston. "That's what you practice for. Ever since you're a little kid, you dream about playing in games like this.
East Central junior linebacker Avery White who has a nose for the football expects one of the most exciting games he will ever participate in.
White said, "They're undefeated. We're undefeated. It's going to be a really good game. A good game to come to."
The stage is set, a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday night pitting two talented, balanced, impressive high school football teams aiming for the same goal...a trip to the 4A State Championship game in Oxford a week from Saturday.
Only one will remain on that road. However, win or lose East Central and Poplarville have a lot to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day. Hornets pride looms big in both communities.
The Resurrection Eagles have a chance to punch their ticket to the Class 1A State Championship game for the second time since 2015...if they can knock-off undefeated Nanih Waiya Friday night at 7 in Louisville. Eagles head coach Scott Sisson has watched his team catch fire at the right time of the season.
Coach Sisson said, "The energy at practice has been unbelievable. The kids seem to be into it. We talked about it as a team. We made it to the State Championship with the undefeated record. We probably hit our stride at the right time. It's a good feeling. The kids sense it because they know we're at full-force now. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's game."
The 7 and 6 Eagles face a Nanih Waiya team that is undefeated, having reeled off 14 consecutive victories.