The high school football regular season was put to rest Friday night, cutting the number of Coast teams still playing games by more than half.
There are 11 teams on the Coast still playing football as Class 1A, 5A and 6A begin the playoffs this week and three Class 4A teams are left standing after the first round of their postseason – East Central, Poplarville and St. Stanislaus.
All three of the victorious 4A squads made it look easy in the first round. East Central ran over Forrest County AHS 48-14, SSC thumped Greene County 56-14 and Poplarville topped Pass Christian 63-21.
While St. Stanislaus (10-1) is the two-time defending Class 4A South State champion, it's not so clear that Myles Brennan and the Rockachaws are the favorite to get back to the state title game this season.
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Poplarville has won nine consecutive games. Against 4A competition, it has been completely dominant. The Hornets (9-1) have beaten 4A teams by an average of 38 points this season and the 21 points they gave up Friday night are the most they've allowed to a 4A team this season.
Poplarville has the type of team that should hang with the pass-happy Rochackaws. The Hornets run the Wing-T very well and have athletes all over the field.
If St. Stanislaus wins at Mendenhall and Quitman loses at Poplarville this week in the second round, we'll get the SSC-Poplarville matchup we've been waiting for in the 4A South State semifinals.
East Central (8-4) has to travel to Florence in the second round. The winner of that game will play the winner of West Lauderdale-Purvis in the other 4A South State semifinal.
A look at 5A
Picayune (10-1) rolled over Pearl River Central 49-7 Friday night and Hattiesburg beat Stone High 49-33, giving Picayune the No. 1 seed out of Region 4-5A. The Maroon Tide will host Wingfield (7-4) in the first round of the 5A South State playoffs.
Stone (8-3) will have the tough task of traveling to Laurel (10-1) in the first round of the postseason and Pascagoula (6-5) will make the trek to Wayne County.
Pascagoula earned the final playoff bid out of 4-5A by beating Gautier 37-31 in overtime Friday night. Pascagoula has the potential to put a scare into Wayne County thanks to its solid defense and the gifted senior running back duo of Reginald Hunter and Javarous Walker. Both Walker and Hunter rushed for about 150 yards Friday night.
6A seeks redemption
A year after all four Class 6A Coast teams lost in the first round of the postseason, the four playoff teams out of Region 4-6A will look to prove they can hang with the big boys this week.
D'Iberville (8-3) claimed the 4-6A regular season title and will host a strong Petal team (7-4) in the first round of the playoffs. No. 2 seed George County (7-4) will also host a playoff game with Meridian (9-3) coming to Lucedale.
Once again, the two 6A Coast teams hosting first-round playoff games won't be overwhelming favorites. Petal and Meridian are perfectly capable of winning those games.
Biloxi and Gulfport are both on the road in the first round. The Indians (6-5) have to go to Pearl (8-3) and Gulfport (6-5) will travel to Brandon (9-3).
Both the Indians and Admirals will be considerable underdogs on the road.
In Class 1A, Resurrection (9-2) will begin its pursuit of a second consecutive 1A South State title when it hosts Noxapater (7-5).