25 Teams in 25 Days

Can Poplarville return to the 4A championship game? The Hornets plan on it.

2017 Poplarville varsity football team
2017 Poplarville varsity football team amccoy@sunherald.com

Poplarville made school history last year when the Hornets earned their first berth in the Class 4A state championship game.

Coming off a 12-2 season, the Hornets have the talent and experience to make another championship run this season.

The Hornets return 14 starters, including nine on offense, from the squad that lost to Lafayette 27-12 in the 4A state finals at Mississippi State’s Davis-Wade Stadium.

Poplarville coach Jay Beech sees a different mentality in the 4A South State and Region 7-4A Champions.

“Losing in the championship game made us hungrier,” Beech said. “We’ll handle things a lot better if we get back to the championship game. We’ve been working real hard.”

Offense

The Hornets’ strength is their Wing-T offense, which averaged more than 40 points a game last year. Leading the charge will be senior tailback Austin Bolton, who ran for 1,746 yards and 21 touchdowns last year.

Antonio Barnes will start a third straight year at quarterback. Other returning skill players who started last year are are wingback Tyson Holston, tight end Mario Barnes and wide receiver Canaan Ray.

The offensive line returns four starters: tackles Tyler Mata and Josh Spiers, center Seth Godwin and guard Kyle Tynes.

New offensive starters are guard Heath Smith and fullback Roosevelt Raine.

“We’ve run the Wing-T here since 2011 and gotten better at it,” Beech said. “The players bought into it and have been running it since the seventh and eighth grades. When they come to us, we’re just expanding it.”

Defense

Defense is a question mark for the Hornets. Defensive tackle Amari Harmon is the only starting returning lineman. Devin Hart and Luke Mitchell will be the bookends. Kaden Wheat and Ahmad Bolton will start at defensive tackle and noseguard.

Both starting linebackers — Peytan Graham and Ross Barnett — return.

Half the secondary is back: cornerback D.J. Travis and strong safety Tyson Holston. Kyle Chambliss will start at free safety, Caziah Daniels at cornerback.

“I’m concerned about our inexperience on defense, especially the defensive line” Beech said.

Special teams

Special teams is another question mark. Graham will take over as punter; Ethan Spiers is the new placekicker.

“We’re concerned about our kicking game,” Beech said. “We don’t have a kicker with any experience.”

The Hornets’ tough schedule includes home contests against Pearl River county rivals Picayune and PRC in the first two games.

“We’re focused on not cramping up,” Beech said. “We cramped up against St. Martin last year. We’re focused on winning our first game, then the region.”

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones

Poplarville roster

2 Blaise Breerwood

3 Amahd Bolton

4 Caziah Daniels

5 Austin Bolton

6 Kevin Hart

7 Kobe Taylor

8 Tyson Holston

9 Antonio Barnes

10 Devin Hart

11 Josh Brown

12 Zaire Jordan

13 DJ Travis

14 Chase Shears

15 Ross Barnett

16 Kyle Chambliss

17 Canaan Ray

18 Chris Hughes

19 Demariano Henry

22 Chris Fowler

23 Roosevelt Rain

25 Seth Johnson

26 Tyler Golden

27 Ethan Taylor

28 Trae Wilson

30 David Carroll-Hilliard

31 Christian Smith

32 Peytan Graham

33 Jourdan Wells

34 Seth Lee

35 Clay Lodrigues

36 Matthew Dedeaux

40 Wyatt Duncan

41 Zac Owen

42 Cole Hooper

44 Mario Barnes

47 Tyler Breland

49 Luke Mitchell

50 Seth Godwin

51 Heath Smith

52 Ethan Spiers

53 Kaden Wheat

54 Tyler Mata

55 Calab Entrekin

56 Kyle Tynes

57 Jackson Callahan

58 Brady Tynes

60 Jordan Temple

61 Joshua Rodgers

62 Jake Menzato

64 Amari Harmon

66 Chandler Norris

67 Brix Crombie

70 Tanner Jolly

71 Cordell Richardson

74 Skyler Hester

75 Josh Spiers

76 Mike Strickland

77 Aaron Allen

79 Ryan Fulks

80 Jordan Bolton

87 Will Smith

89 Shane Necaise

99 Jadyn Farmer

Poplarville schedule

Aug. 18: Picayune

Aug. 25: Pearl River Central

Sept. 1: Seminary

Sept. 8: at Stone

Sept. 15: at Heidelburg

Sept. 29: Greene County

Oct. 6: at Forrest County AHS

Oct. 13: at Sumrall

Oct. 20: Purvis

Oct. 27: at Lawrence County

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