St. Stanislaus cruised to a 41-14 win when it faced Moss Point in the regular season, but SSC head coach Bill Conides expects to face a different bunch of Tigers Friday night in the third round of the Class 4A playoffs.
SSC rolled to the win in Bay St. Louis on Oct. 23 with quarterback Myles Brennan throwing for 428 yards and two running backs, Cahill Marlowe and Andrew Trapani, both scoring a pair of touchdowns.
The two teams meet again at 7 p.m. Friday in Moss Point with a spot in the 4A South State title game on the line and Conides expects a different challenge this time.
"I think the biggest difference coming in is they're going to play with a lot more confidence than last time around," Conides said this week. "They've played three weeks in a row where it's been a must-win situation for them. That's going to give them some additional fight. They're just a different team based on confidence level."
Moss Point (7-5) has won three consecutive games, including a pair of impressive playoff wins on the road.
The Tigers took down West Lauderdale (9-3) by a score of 20-14 in the first round and beat North Pike (9-4) in a 62-51 barn burner last week.
"I'm just proud of the guys," Moss Point coach Willie Brown said. "They've been working hard all year long. They've been staying together and playing better."
Senior running back Cal'terrius Anderson went down with a season-ending knee injury late in the regular season, but his production has been replaced by junior Omni Wells and senior Travis Marion.
Last week at North Pike, Wells rushed 30 times for 383 yards and five touchdowns while Marion had 17 carries for 177 yards and three scores.
Wells has now rushed 170 times for 1,358 yards and 12 touchdowns this season while Marion is at 109 carries for 983 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Wells has played all over the field for the Tigers during his career - defensive back, running back, receiver, kicker and punter. He's also the backup quarterback.
With Wells focusing more on running back, his production is on the increase.
"I'm not surprised (by his production)," Brown said. "He's a good athlete. He's one of the best I've been around. He's so versatile and he's a good kid. He's a better kid than he is an athlete. He's a kid that you want to be around. His greatest asset is his character."
St. Stanislaus (9-3) is coming off a 33-21 victory over Poplarville in what Conides described as a "revenge" game after losing to the Hornets last year in the regular season.
"I'm really proud of our defense," Conides said. "That's the best version of the Wing-T we've faced all season."
Moss Point will have to find its way into the end zone consistently and hold onto the ball as much as possible to hang with a potent SSC offense.
While the Rockachaws continue to put up gaudy numbers on offense, Conides points to his defense as the group that has picked up its play most of late. Senior safety Mason Favre, senior linebacker Mitchell Walk and senior defensive end Tommy Reed have provided leadership on that side of the ball.
"They've been tremendous in practice and tremendous on Friday night," Conides said. "Those three guys have certainly pushed the defense along."
Conides knows his team will enter a difficult setting at Moss Point, which is seeking its first trip to South State since doing it in Class 5A in 2009.
"It'll be alive, electric," Conides said. "It's really nice going to Moss Point, which has one of the more unique stadiums with it being right there on the bayou. I'm sure people will be jacked up to play us."
Other matchups: Vancleave hosts Lawrence County in 4A. In 5A, Pascagoula is at Laurel and Pearl River Central hosts Wayne County. Resurrection travels to Stringer in 1A.