Friday night at Milner Stadium is sure to have a playoff atmosphere.
The Class 6A playoffs won’t officially begin until next week but both the Biloxi Indians and Gulfport Admirals need wins to feel good about their postseason chances.
No. 7 Biloxi (6-4, 4-2 Region 4-6A) is in the playoffs for the first time since 2012 with a win or a loss coupled with a St. Martin defeat.
Gulfport (5-5, 3-3) qualifies for its third straight postseason with a win or a loss and a three-way tie with Ocean Springs and St. Martin.
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If current trends are in play, Gulfport should feel good about its chances. The Admirals have won four straight in the series. Even more impressive: Gulfport hasn’t lost to Biloxi at home since 1984.
GHS coach Eddie Pierce said he hasn’t focused on the streaks much while talking to his players.
“We don’t get into all that,” Pierce said. “We just try to focus on what we do, go out there Friday night and do the best we can.
“I don’t really talk about the other team much. We just have the attitude that everyone we play is pretty darn good.”
Bobby Hall, in his second season at Biloxi, has a bit of a different philosophy when it comes to the streaks.
“I'm of the theory that a team can't get too high for a football game,” he said. “I think football is a game of emotion and passion and I want my team to play that way. I'll use anything I can.”
On a roll
The Indians enter Friday night’s game as one of the hotter teams on the Coast. Biloxi has won four of its last five rather handily, with a five-point loss to St. Martin as the lone blemish during the streak.
“We’ve got a little swagger now that we’re starting to believe,” Hall said. “That comes with success. It’s really hard to get (swagger) until you have success.”
Former D’Iberville athlete Tucker Thomas started the year as Biloxi’s quarterback, but an injury opened the door for Brodie King and he hasn’t disappointed. King has completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 122 yards and another three scores. Perhaps most importantly, King has yet to turn the ball over as quarterback.
“He really manages the game and understands what I teach that a quarterback can lose a game much faster than he can win one,” Hall said.
Hall said Thomas has played more at receiver and defensive back since returning from injury and has fully embraced his new role.
The Admirals enter the game having lost three of their last five, but their games have almost all come down to the final possession.
“We go out and lose by one to Harrison Central, then we lose by three points to D’Iberville,” Pierce said. “Both games came down to a field goal. We just couldn't get it done when we had to.
“I think our kids are playing hard, just didn't make plays when we had the opportunities.”
Even with the narrow defeats, the Admirals boast one of the Coast’s top scoring defenses. Led by junior Karlos Dillard, Gulfport has allowed just 18.7 points per game this year. Where the Admirals have struggled, however, is rushing the football. Through 10 games, the Admirals are averaging just 121.6 yards per contest.
Pierce had high hopes for his offensive line heading into the season, but the unit has been in constant flux.
“We've kind of had musical chairs to find right combination,” Pierce said.
Keys to the game
Bottom line, both coaches believe Friday night’s playoff hopes will come down to two key areas.
Pierce: “We’re going to have to run it Friday night. I think we have to keep the ball away from their offense and sustain drives.”
Hall: “I think turnover ratio and explosive plays. We need to have some explosive plays and keep theirs at a minimal. I don't think there's a big difference in the two teams.”
Who: Biloxi at Gulfport
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Radio: 1490 AM, 1640 AM
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