We're only one week into the Region 7-4A schedule, but it would be a stunning development if Poplarville doesn't roll to a region title this season.
The Sun Herald No. 1 Hornets (6-0, 1-0) took down their stiffest competition in region play Friday night, holding on 54-36 to hand Greene County (6-1, 0-1) its first loss of the season in Poplarville.
The team remaining on the schedule that's most likely to put up a fight against Poplarville in 7-4A is Purvis (3-3, 1-0) and the Tornadoes have to travel to Poplarville on Oct. 20.
Poplarville senior running back Austin Bolton ran 22 times for 277 yards and four touchdowns against a Greene County defense that was one of the best in South Mississippi through the first half of the season.
With only 98 carries on the season, Bolton has already accounted for 1,224 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns. The senior continues to build a strong case with each week that he is the MVP of high school football in South Mississippi.
Bolton was one of three South Mississippi running backs to hit the 1,000-yard mark Friday night, joining Harrison Central senior Keon Moore, Pascagoula senior Dalvin Abney and East Central senior Tony Brown.
Moore, who received a scholarship offer from Louisiana-Monroe, is the only one of those running backs who has a Division I offer so far. College coaches should take a closer look at the other three.
Sun Herald No. 3 East Central (5-0, 1-0) continues to back up its favorite status in Region 8-4A, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that St. Stanislaus is capable of putting up a challenge against the Hornets.
East Central thumped Moss Point 56-12 Friday night in Hurley while St. Stanislaus (3-3, 1-0) thrashed Vancleave 47-0 in Bay St. Louis.
The Rockachaws play good enough defense to hang with a potent East Central offense and SSC senior quarterback Jake Greer is looking better by the week. He threw for 261 yards and six touchdowns against Vancleave Friday night.
SSC will travel to East Central on Oct. 13.
The rest of Region 8-4A has to be concerned that East Central has yet to play its best game of the season. The Hornets, who had a sloppy first half against Moss Point, can turn on the burners at any moment.
While running back Tony Brown and receivers Brad Cumbest are the two stars of the East Central offense, senior quarterback Rylee Brown can't be ignored as a weapon. He completed 5-of-8 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown against Moss Point. Brown, a 6-foot-4 senior, has a strong arm and throws a nice deep ball.
No game deserved the title of "must win" more than Friday night's Long Beach-Gautier game. Both teams needed that game badly to stay in the hunt for the postseason.
The Bearcats came out on top with ease, rolling to a 48-28 victory on the road in the first of two huge games for them.
With Long Beach off to a 5-1 start and a 2-0 mark in Region 4-5A, Long Beach head coach Forrest Williams receives this week's Game Ball for the top coaching performance.
Long Beach has already cleared its three-win total from a year ago and now prepares to host Wayne County (3-3, 1-1) in a game that will have huge postseason implications for both teams.