Southern Miss

Building buzz: East Central and Poplarville are finally set to cross paths

The long awaited “Hornet Bowl” has become a reality.

East Central and Poplarville cruised through the third round of the playoffs to set up Friday’s 7 p.m. battle of the unbeatens in the Class 4A South State title game. Poplarville will play the role of host.

East Central improved to 12-0 with a 77-32 win at South Pike while Poplarville (13-0) pulled away in the second half for a 33-12 victory over rival Purvis.

While fans and media have discussed the intriguging prospect of Poplarville and East Central meeting in the playoffs for much of the season, that buzz wasn’t all that popular among the players.

“We’ve mostly been hearing it from everybody else,” East Central senior running back Tony Brown said Friday. “We haven’t talked about it that much. It’s not even a rivalry. People are just making it that way.”

Poplarville is looking to secure its second consecutive trip to the 4A state title game while East Central has never been this far in the postseason. East Central had never won two games in the postseason until it beat West Lauderdale 52-6 in the second round this year.

While it’s tough predict a winner in Friday’s game, I can assure you that the game will move quickly. Both teams will mostly keep it on the ground.

East Central is still rolling

With the way East Central has been playing since the start of October, you have give Seth Smith’s squad a slight edge over the home-standing Hornets.

Friday night’s win over Purvis was a positive sign, but Poplarville appeared to be playing its best football at the midway point of the season.

While the defense did give up its most points of the season Friday night, East Central has continued to show progress with each week.

Also, East Central provides the threat of the big play in the passing game with senior quarterback Rylee Brown and senior receiver Brad Cumbest. The two connected four times for 112 yards and two touchdowns on Friday.

A great sign for Poplarville is the return of senior running back Austin Bolton to form. He ran 24 times for 171 yards against Purvis for his best performance in about a month.

There will be a healthy debate among East Central and Poplarville fans as the week goes on. You can expect a packed house and a frenzied environment at Poplarville High School this Friday.

Game Ball

There were big expectations placed on the Resurrection Catholic football team to begin the season, but an 0-4 start put a damper on the big talk.

Following Friday’s 20-12 win over Lumberton, RCS is back in the Class 1A South State title game for the second time in the last three years. That’s why RCS coach Scott Sisson receives this week’s Game Ball for the top coaching performance in South Mississippi.

Resurrection (7-6) will make a tough road trip to play Nanih Waiya (14-0) in Louisville this week.

Nanih Waiya eliminated RCS from the playoffs in both the 2014 and 2016 seasons. The first loss was by the score of 24-0 and it was 27-0 in 2016.