A MACJC State playoff berth is at stake when East Central travels to Pearl River at 7 p.m. Thursday at Dobie Holden Stadium.
East Central (6-2, 3-2) can clinch second place in the South Division with a road victory over the Wildcats (2-6, 1-4). East Central, Hinds and Co-Lin are tied for second place, with the Warriors holding the tiebreaker. The Wolfpack must beat Jones County Junior College and need Southwest to defeat Hinds and East Central lose.
The Warriors, coached by former Tulane quarterback Ken Karcher, have a talented team.
Quarterback Jesse Hosket has completed 110 of 146 passes (75.3 percent) for 1,308 yards and 14 touchdowns, with only one interception. Tredarian Gamble leads the Warriors in rushing with 734 yards and nine touchdowns. Defensive tackle Kendrick Hair and linebacker Jarkeith Ruffin leads the Warriors' defense.
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"I think Karcher is coach of the year in our league," Wildcats coach William Jones said in a statement. "They run the ball with balance, a lot of different ways, with lots of different personnel groups, and they've been extremely advantageous in passing situations."
Pearl River, however, hasn't won at home this season.
"Any time you have your last game at home, you want to win that," Jones said. "I don't think we've showed as well at home as we need to. You've got to defend your home ground, and we haven't done that.
"We played well and defeated Co-Lin, who was number one at the time. The next week, we played Gulf Coast and looked like we couldn't beat Sumrall High School. We haven't been consistent."
Pearl River leads the all-time series 52-19-4 and won 10-2 last season.