High School Sports

Which football teams are the class of South Mississippi? Week 4 should tell

Hancock head coach Neil Lollar talks to linebacker Colby McGough during the second quarter of their game against Gautier at Brett Favre Field in Kiln on Friday.
Hancock head coach Neil Lollar talks to linebacker Colby McGough during the second quarter of their game against Gautier at Brett Favre Field in Kiln on Friday. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Friday night's outcomes just reinforced what we already knew after the first two weeks of the season: Poplarville, Picayune and East Central appear to be the best high school football teams in South Mississippi.

Against a Seminary squad that had allowed just six points through the first two games, Sun Herald No. 1 Poplarville rolled to a 47-0 victory behind three touchdowns by senior running back Austin Bolton.

Through three weeks of the season, it's hard to argue against Bolton as the early MVP on the Coast. Following the graduation of fullback Jesse Pernell, Barnes is getting more opportunities and is a threat to go the distance each time he touches the ball. Bolton has eight touchdowns so far.

No. 2 Picayune pushed past Pascagoula 27-6 Friday night for their second consecutive win against a quality opponent after losing 27-24 at Poplarville in the season opener.

After playing the first three weeks in Pearl River County, Picayune has back-to-back difficult road trips coming up. The Maroon Tide will play Gulfport on Friday before entering the bye week. On Sept. 22, Picayune will open Region 4-5A play with a contest at Wayne County.

Class 4A East Central has proven up to the test against Class 6A opponents Biloxi and George County. After beating Biloxi 24-10 in the opener, the No. 3 Hornets pulled away in the second half for a 45-12 win in Lucedale behind 24 carries for 260 yards and three touchdowns by Tony Brown.

Tough slate

East Central head coach Seth Smith lined up a tough non-region schedule for his team this season and it only gets more difficult this week when Class 3A Jefferson Davis County comes to Hurley.

Jefferson Davis County, which is in its first year following the merger of Bassfield and Prentiss, won 48-34 at Class 5A powerhouse Wayne County Friday night. This week's slate of games should be one of the best of the season and Friday night's contest in Hurley will be a good one.

Another attractive match-up coming up this week is taking place in Perkinston with No. 8 Stone High playing host to Poplarville. Stone has beaten Biloxi and Harrison Central to stand at 2-0 in John Feaster's second year on the job. The Tomcats are sure to make a significant jump in this week's Sun Herald Top 10.

One rivalry contest on the schedule this week is Gautier-Pascagoula, which may be moved from War Memorial Stadium in Pascagoula after the new artificial turf was completed there just this past week.

School district officials will make a decision on Tuesday on whether the game should be moved to Gautier. Wet weather caused delays in the installation.

Game ball

The choice for the top coaching performance of the week is an easy one with Hancock's Neil Lollar winning this week's game ball.

Lollar, who is in his first year as head coach at Hancock, has the Hawks off to a 3-0 start after beating Gautier 24-0 Friday night.

The Hawks have never had the reputation of a defensive juggernaut, but they've held three opponents to a total of 14 points and have already put up shutouts against Pearl River Central and Gautier.

Hancock also started the 2016 season with a 3-0 mark before stumbling to a 4-7 mark, but you get the idea that Lollar's Hawks will be hard to handle the rest of the way this season.

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