After a lengthy wait for its first home game of 2017, Pascagoula finally gets a shot to play on its new artificial turf Friday night in a key Region 4-6A contest against Gulfport.
Not only will the Panthers be showing off their new playing field, but they will also be honoring arguably the greatest team in program history with the 1987 Class 5A state champions being recognized prior to the game.
Players on that team like cornerback Terrell Buckley, who is an assistant coach at Mississippi State, and quarterback Shane Matthews, who is coaching high school football in Florida, will be unable to attend. The coach of the 1987 team, Bill Matthews, will be on hand along with up to 40 members of the team.
Pascagoula (2-3, 0-1) was originally scheduled to play its home opener on Sept. 8 against Gautier, but that game was moved to the Gators’ home field after wet weather delayed installation of the new turf.
Pascagoula gave up 321 yards and four touchdowns to Harrison Central senior Keon Moore, who played quarterback all game, last week in a 29-27 loss.
On Friday night, Pascagoula faces another gifted runner at quarterback in junior T.Q. Newsome, who ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries last week against St. Martin. Gulfport is 2-3 and 1-0 after thumping St. Martin 30-7 last week.
My prediction: Gulfport 31, Pascagoula 21.
Here’s how I see the rest of Friday night’s games playing out:
Biloxi 24, Harrison Central 20: The defense has managed to keep Biloxi (1-4, 1-0) in most games this season and the offense is beginning to catch up. Junior linebacker Donte Starks played a big role in slowing down D’Iberville last week. On Friday night, Starks will be tasked with helping to keep Moore in check.
Hancock 28, St. Martin 21: Hancock (4-1, 1-0) showed it’s not the same old Hancock last week in a 28-20 win at Ocean Springs. If the Hawks take care of business on their home field Friday night, they’ll be one step closer to earning their first playoff bid since 2014.
D’Iberville 24, Ocean Springs: 17: We’ll find out what D’Iberville is made of Friday night after being upset 26-23 by Biloxi last week. The Warriors (1-4, 0-1) have to get momentum rolling after starting the season as the favorite in 4-6A.
Brandon 28, George County 17: George County’s defense can hang with just about anybody in Region 3-6A as it showed in last week’s 17-7 loss at Oak Grove, but the offense will have to start producing more for the Rebels (1-5, 0-1) to contend for a postseason spot.
Hattiesburg 31, Stone High 21: Hattiesburg (5-0, 1-0) seems to be getting better with each week after thumping Gautier 56-13 last week. Coach John Feaster will have his No. 4. Tomcats (3-1, 1-0) ready, but the Tigers are looking more and more like the favorite in Region 4-5A.
Long Beach 28, Gautier 20: This game is close to a must win for both teams if they are going to stay in the postseason hunt. Long Beach (4-1, 1-0) is seeking its first playoff bid since 2011 while Gautier (1-4, 0-1) is looking to get back in the postseason for the first time since 2014.
Picayune 35, West Harrison 17: West Harrison (1-4, 0-1) put up a nice fight at Stone High in a 45-36 loss last week, but Picayune (4-1, 1-0) is proving tougher by the week.
Wayne County 31, Pearl River Central 14: Wayne County (2-4, 0-1) needs to break through with a region win at PRC (0-5, 0-1) before traveling to Long Beach for a big game next week.
St. Stanislaus 28, Vancleave 14: St. Stanislaus (2-3) appears to be the biggest threat to East Central in Region 8-4A, but the Rockachaws can take no game for granted. Things can always get a little weird when region play begins.
East Central 31, Moss Point 17: This game has developed into a nice 8-4A rivalry, but the Hornets will be the heavy favorite on their home field. East Central (4-0) has won the last two contests against Moss Point, starting with their first win ever over the Tigers in 2015.
Pass Christian 35, Bay High 20: Pass Christian (2-3) is looking to extend its winning streak to three games against Bay High, which is still seeking its first win at 0-5. As junior running back Tionne Frost goes, so goes the Pirates.
Poplarville 28, Greene County 14: Everybody talks about Greene County’s tough defense, but Poplarville has been solid on that side of the ball as well. The Hornets (5-0) are allowing 11.6 points a game. Greene County (6-0) has allowed 9.2 points a game, but it hasn’t faced an offense as potent as Poplarville.
Resurrection 28, Stringer 24: Stringer rolls in with a 5-1 record, but Resurrection (2-4, 1-0) has played a more difficult schedule up to this point. The Eagles are finally somewhat healthy and ready for the road challenge Friday night.
North Forrest 27, St. Patrick 14: This will be the Region 8-2A opener for both teams. St. Patrick (2-3) made the drop down from Class 3A after last season and the Fighting Irish can’t be counted out this season for a playoff spot. North Forrest, however, should be one of the better teams in the region with a 4-2 mark.
Christian Collegiate 35, Franklin (La.) 21: CCA (3-3, 2-1) can improve to 3-1 in region play with a road win Friday night.