25 Teams in 25 Days

Poplarville ready to make run at 4A State Championship

2016 Poplarville football team
2016 Poplarville football team ttisbell@sunherald.com

Poplarville has the offensive firepower to make a run at the 4A South State Championship.

The Hornets return 13 starters from last year’s team that went 7-5 and finished third in Region 7-4A. The Hornets’ other nine projected starters also saw plenty of playing time in 2015.

“We have a lot of experience coming back,” Hornets coach Jay Beech said. “We’ll have a lot of fun and get after it. We won’t get overconfident.”

With the return of two 1,000 yard rushers Austin Bolton and Jesse Pernell, Poplarville’s potent Wing-T offense will be hard to stop. Bolton, a junior, rushed for a team-high 1,319 yards and 15 touchdowns. Pernell, a senior, gained 1,269 yards and scored 15 TDs.

“It feels good to have a pair of 1,000 yard runners back,” Beech said. “They both put on weight and have experience. Pernell’s good and Bolton has a chance to be real special.”

Antonio Barnes will start at quarterback for a second straight season. The sophomore threw for 551 yards and two TDs, giving the Hornets a solid signal-caller. Senior Evan Spiers returns at tight end.

Seniors Trey Griffin and Austin Carter will start at wingback and wide receiver, respectively.

The Hornets’ only question mark on offense is their offensive line, returning only two starters: junior tackle Josh Spiers and senior guard Austin Arceneaux.

Juniors Jordan Temple and Kyle Tynes will be the starting center and guard. Sophomore Tyler Mata will be the other starting tackle.

“We’ll be starting a new offensive line, but we feel good about the guys upfront,” Beech said.

Beech, Poplarville’s third-year coach, feels defense will be the team’s strongpoint. Eight starters return, including five All Region 7-4A performers.

Senior Chad Hart and junior Amari Harmon both return at defensive tackle. Senior Jamerrick Waller is also back at defensive end.

A pair of seniors— Zac Rice and Brandon Bullock— will start at nosetackle and defensive end in the Hornets’ 5-2 defense.

Senior Turan Smith returns at one linebacker spot. Junior Peytan Graham will start at the other linebacker role, replacing Tyler Fricke.

Poplarville’ strength on defense could be its secondary, returning three of four starters. Sophomore Tyson Holston and senior Camden Ray are the strong safety and free safety. Senior Aritaeus Johnson is also back at cornerback.

Junior D.J. Travis will start at cornerback.

“Our defense will carry us,” Beech said. “We’ve got a strong secondary and two good linebackers. We’ve got a strong defensive front.”

Beech sees Purvis as the favorite to win Region 7-4A and reigning Region 8-4A champion St. Stanislaus in 4A South state.

“Purvis will be good,” Beech said. “FCAHS has a lot of players coming back. I heard Columbia has a couple of studs. You can’t count out Greene County and Sumrall because their coaches have won state championships. Our Region will be better. Three of our teams can easily advance. The Coast Region is really strong with St. Stanislaus and East Central. Moss Point’s tough.”

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones

Poplarville Hornets

Region: Region 7-4A

2015 Record: 7-5, 3-2

Coach: Jay Beech

Assistant Coaches: Jacob Owen, Timmy Story, Adam Johnson, Chris Dewease, Rocky Hester, Troy Davis.

Offense: Wing T

Defense: 5-2


Aug. 12 BILOXI (Jamboree)

Aug. 19 at St. Martin

Aug. 26 at Pearl River Central

Sept. 2 at Lumberton

Sept. 9 STONE

Sept. 16 HANCOCK

Sept. 30 at Greene County



Oct. 21 at Purvis


Projected Starters


QB Antonio Barnes (6-0, 165, soph.)

RB Austin Bolton (5-9, 165, sr.)

FB Jesse Pernell (5-9, 205, sr.)

WB Trey Griffin (6-0, 175, sr.)

WR Austin Carter (5-11, 185, sr.)

TE Evan Spiers (6-1, 180, sr.)

T Tyler Mata (6-2, 190, soph.)

G Austin Arceneaux (5-5, 180, sr.)

C Jordan Temple (5-9, 215, jr.)

G Kyle Tynes (5-10, 215, jr.)

T Josh Spiers (5-11, 315, jr.)


DE Jamerrick Waller (6-0, 240, sr.)

DT Amari Harmon (5-10, 245, jr.)

NG Zac Rice (5-6, 145, sr.)

DT Chad Hart (6-0, 265, sr.)

DE Brandon Bullock (5-10, 215, sr.)

LB Peytan Graham (5-11, 215, jr.)

LB Turan Smith (5-5, 140, sr.)

CB Aritaeus Johnson (6-0, 150, sr.)

CB D.J. Travis (6-0, 155, jr.)

FS Camden Ray (5-9, 175, sr.)

SS Tyson Holston (5-8, 165, soph.)


2 Aritaeus Johnson

3 Ahmad Bolton

4 Nicholas Kirshbaum

5 Austin Bolton

6 Jamerrick Waller

7 Zach Rice

8 Tyson Holston

9 Antonio Barnes

10 Tyler Griffin

11 Jacob Douglas

12 Zaire Jordan

13 D.J. Travis

14 Austin Carter

15 Ross Barnett

16 Kyle Chambliss

17 Canaan Ray

18 Pacey McBride

19 Ethan Burge

21 Camden Ray

22 Chris Fowler

23 Roosevelt Raine

25 Brandon Bullock

26 Tyler Golden

27 Garrett Seal

28 Turan Smith

29 Joseph Robinson

30 Jesse Pernell

31 Christian Smith

32 Peytan Graham

33 Josh Brown

34 Hill Johnson

35 Derrick Santini

36 Matthew Dedeaux

40 Wyatt Duncan

41 Hunter Callahan

42 Evan Smith

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 Scotty Stewart

58 Chad Hart

59 Austin Arceneaux

60 Jordan Temple

61 Josh Rogers

62 Jake Menzato

64 Amari Harmon

65 Sid Stevens

66 Clay Lodrigues

67 Brix Crombie

68 Andrew Barras

70 Tanner Jolley

71 Cordell Richardson

74 Kalob Busby

75 Josh Spiers

76 Mike Strickland

77 Aaron Allen

78 Taylor Josey

79 John Maxwell

80 Kobe Taylor

87 Patrick Dobbs

88 Aaron McCurdy

89 Shane Necaise

99 Jadyn Farmer

25 Teams in 25 Days

Today, the Sun Herald launches our annual 25 Teams in 25 Days series in the run up to the Aug. 26 kick off of high school football in Mississippi. Today we profile the Poplarville Hornets.