With one playoff bid still to be decided in Region 4-5A, all eyes will be on Stone High-Long Beach and Wayne County-Gautier on Friday night.
Hattiesburg (10-0, 6-0) has already locked up the No. 1 seed and Picayune (8-2, 5-1) will be the No. 2 seed. Stone High (6-3, 4-2) has landed a playoff bid, but seeding is still to be determined.
Wayne County (5-5, 3-3) and Long Beach (6-4, 3-3) are tied for fourth place at the moment, but Wayne County has the head-to-head advantage thanks to its 49-42 win over the Bearcats on Oct. 6.
Long Beach can earn a playoff bid in three different scenarios:
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▪ Long Beach beats Stone High and Wayne County loses to Gautier.
▪ Long Beach beats Stone High by 3 or more points.
▪ A Long Beach loss combined with a Wayne County defeat of 3 or more points.
My predictions for the two games are Stone High 31, Long Beach 20 and Wayne County 30, Gautier 17.
Poplarville 42, Northeast Lauderdale 17: The winner of this first-round Class 4A playoff game against Poplarville (10-0) will face the winner of St. Stanislaus-McComb next week. It’ll be interesting to see how Poplarville running back Austin Bolton plays after sitting out last week with an injury.
East Central 38, Lanier 10: Poplarville is the defending Class 4A South State champion, but you can make a strong case that East Central (9-0) is the favorite to begin the playoffs. The winner of this game will face the winner of Sumrall-West Lauderdale next week.
McComb 24, St. Stanislaus 21: Heisman Trophy winner Doc Blanchard was in his senior season at St. Stanislaus the one and only time that McComb and SSC played a football game. The game took place on Dec. 5, 1941, in New Orleans as part of the “Toy Bowl.” Blanchard scored the only touchdown for SSC in a game that McComb won 25-6.
Florence 27, Pass Christian 20: The Pirates of Pass Christian (5-5) are playing their best football of the season, but Florence (7-3) is an experienced team that reached the 4A South State title game last season.
South Pike 45, Moss Point 17: South Pike has won six consecutive games headed into Friday night’s playoff game. The winner advances to play the victor of Quitman-Greene County next week.
Gulfport 28, Biloxi 17: The Admirals (7-3, 6-0) have already clinched the No. 1 seed in Region 4-6A, but they’ll still be a motivated bunch against their main rival. Biloxi (3-7, 3-3) will be in the playoffs with a win or a D’Iberville loss. Also, in the event that Biloxi, St. Martin and Harrison Central tie for fourth place, Biloxi will earn the No. 4 seed and a playoff bid.
Harrison Central 17, Ocean Springs 14: Both teams are eliminated from the postseason, but I can see Harrison Central senior running back Keon Moore closing out with a bang.
D’Iberville 24, St. Martin 17: D’Iberville (4-6, 3-3) showed some life last week in a 36-12 win over Harrison Central. St. Martin (6-4, 3-3) will need to have somewhat of a passing game to beat the Warriors. The winner is assured a spot in the playoffs.
Hancock 31, Pascagoula 17: Hancock (8-2, 5-1) already has the No. 2 seed in Region 4-6A and has won four consecutive games. The Hawks appear set to host either Brandon or Petal in the first round of the playoffs.
Picayune 38, Pearl River Central 14: Picayune (8-2, 5-1) could easily rest much of its roster with the No. 2 seed already lined up but this is always an intense rivalry contest.
Hattiesburg 42, West Harrison 14: Hattiesburg (10-0) should finish off a perfect regular season before playing a home game next week.
Resurrection 35, East Marion 28: Both teams are already in the playoffs, but the winner of this game gets the No. 3 seed in Region 4-1A.