This week is when the games really begin to count.
Region competition gets rolling across the Coast in Class 5A and Class 6A Friday night with a handful of interesting match-ups.
Picayune has earned the right to be the favorite in 4-5A. In 4-6A, it's anybody's game. St. Stanislaus is the heavy favorite to win Region 8-4A, but those teams don't start region play until next week.
Following an 8-3 week, I'm starting to regain some confidence.
To the picks:
Hattiesburg 42, West Harrison 14: The Tigers (3-2) are as talented as any 5A team in the southern half of the state and they may be Picayune's biggest challenge in 4-5A. West Harrison (1-3) faces a difficult region schedule ahead.
Pascagoula 24, Long Beach 17: The Bearcats (2-3) have played much better football over the last three weeks and they has two games remaining on a five-game road swing. Pascagoula (1-3) showed signs of life with a 36-29 win over George County before the bye week. The running back duo of Javarious Walker and Reginald Hunter should lead the way for Goula.
East Central 35, Purvis 30: The Hornets (3-2) have shown that they can score with anybody on the Coast, but there has to be improvement on defense after losing 63-55 to St. Martin last week. This game at Purvis (2-2) provides a nice tuneup for region competition.
Picayune 42, Gautier 14: The No. 1 Maroon Tide (4-0) have a favorable region schedule that has Hattiesburg, Pascagoula and Stone High all coming to Picayune. Gautier (1-3) also faces the daunting task of making the 75-mile trek to Picayune.
St. Andrews 35, St. Patrick 13: The Fighting Irish (0-5) have to make the long trip to Ridgeland for their final non-region game of the season.
Harrison Central 28, George County 27: This game in Lucedale could turn out to be the most entertaining contest of the night. George County (2-2) is more explosive on offense, but turnovers continue to haunt the Rebels. Keon Moore should have a big game for the Red Rebels (2-2).
D'Iberville 28, Biloxi 17: The Indians (2-2) have proven capable on defense, but the offense hasn't hit its stride just yet. D'Iberville (2-2) needs to win this home game to get past last week's 40-14 loss to St. Stanislaus and start the region slate on a positive note.
Ocean Springs 24, Hancock 20: The Greyhounds (3-1) have to make the trip to Hancock County Friday night. They've been perfect on the road so far and they'll face a Hancock team that has quietly had a nice season so far at 3-1.
Stone High 31, Pearl River Central 24: The Stone High football team finally gets to play a home game in Perkinston this season. The Tomcats should come out fired up after finishing a strong 3-1 on the road to start the season.
Northview (Fla.) 17, Vancleave 16: Northview has played a difficult schedule and sits at 2-2. Vancleave (0-4) has had a hard time getting over the hump.
Tallulah (La.) 38, Christian Collegiate 31: These two teams split a pair of games last season. Tallulah rolls in at 4-0 while CCA sits at 2-1.
Resurrection 21, Escambia County Academy (Fla.) 20: This will be one of Resurrection's biggest tests of the season, but the Eagles' passing game is one of the best in Class 1A.