Three games may help weed out the pretenders from the contenders in Region 4-6A Friday night.
D'Iberville (5-3, 3-1), St. Martin (6-3, 3-1) and George County (5-3, 3-1) are in a three-way tie for first and all three face tests in region play. D'Iberville has to travel to defending region champ Gulfport (4-4, 2-2), St. Martin hosts rival Ocean Springs (4-4, 1-3) and George County plays host to a surprising Biloxi team (4-4, 2-2).
If I had to pick a team to beat in the region at the moment, it's George County, which is playing improved defense and continuing to put up points on offense.
It's week 10 of the high school football season and Patrick's Picks is picking up some steam following a 12-3 performance a week ago.
To the picks:
St. Martin 31, Ocean Springs 24: The Yellow Jackets have a chance at exorcising the demons from last year's late-season collapse. Against a banged up Ocean Springs team, St. Martin can draw very close to its first playoff bid since 2003.
Stone 41, West Harrison 14: The Stone High Tomcats (6-2, 3-1) are still riding high in John Feaster's first year on the job as head coach. Pascagoula, Picayune and Hattiesburg join Stone atop Region 4-5A at 3-1. The region championship may be decided when Stone travels to Hattiesburg in the regular season finale.
Pass Christian 28, Vancleave 14: Vancleave (1-7, 1-2) picked up its first win of the season 34-9 over Bay High last week, but Pass Christian (4-4, 1-2) knows this is a must win to reach the playoffs.
Pascagoula 27, Pearl River Central 17: Hattiesburg humbled Pascagoula 49-14 last week and the Panthers (4-4, 3-1) have to rebound quickly to avoid falling back in the race in Region 4-5A. PRC (4-4, 2-2) faces a tough stretch to close out the regular season with Hattiesburg and Picayune waiting the next two weeks.
St. Stanislaus 38, Moss Point 20: After racing past East Central 70-50 last week, it's hard to see anyone slowing down No. 1 St. Stanislaus (7-1, 3-0) in Region 8-4A. Moss Point (4-4, 2-1) is led by senior running back Omni Wells, who has 163 carries for 887 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
East Central 49, Bay High 14: East Central (5-4, 2-1) can score with just about anybody in the state, but it has to cut down on turnovers if it's going to make a big run in the 4A playoffs.
Picayune 35, Long Beach 14: The No. 2 Maroon Tide suffered their first loss of the season 38-31 to Stone High in double overtime last week. Dodd Lee's crew won't be in a very good mood when they walk into Lumpkin-Magee Stadium.
Collins 28, St. Patrick 13: This is St. Patrick's best chance to pick up a win before the season ends. Collins is 1-9, but will have the home field advantage.
Harrison Central 31, Hancock 17: Harrison Central coach Casey Cain hopes his team found its mojo last week in a 14-13 win over Gulfport. Hancock (3-5, 0-4) has to still be stinging after losing 63-7 at D'Iberville last week.
Hattiesburg 42, Gautier 20: After the beating that Hattiesburg (6-3, 3-1) put on Pascagoula last week, it's hard to see the Gators (3-5, 2-2) keeping up.
D'Iberville 28, Gulfport 21: A loss here by Gulfport (4-4, 2-2) could be a significant hit to its playoff hopes. D'Iberville (5-3, 3-1) is hoping last week's thumping of Hancock is a sign of things to come.
George County 31, Biloxi 21: The Rebels appear to be getting better by the week as they gear up for the postseason. Biloxi is tough to handle every Friday night.
Poplarville 28, Purvis 24: This will be one of the biggest Class 4A games in the state Friday night. No. 3 Poplarville (6-1, 3-0) hopes its potent ground attack will lead to a seventh consecutive win at Purvis (6-2, 2-0).
Resurrection 42, Bogue Chitto 7: Resurrection (7-1, 3-0) has a long trip to make to Lincoln County, but the Eagles shouldn't have a problem with winless Bogue Chitto.
Christian Collegiate 35, Rebul Academy 27: CCA (3-4) has been hard to read this season, but they should be the favorite Friday night in Gulfport against Rebul (3-7).