High School Sports

St. Stanislaus-East Central sets up as Region 8-4A Super Bowl

East Central defensive tackle Trace Higginbotham (31) celebrates with middle linebacker Avery White (24) and defensive end Joel Reiser (21) after sacking Moss Point quarterback Ruben Lee (not pictured) on =Sept. 29 at East Central High School in Hurley.
East Central defensive tackle Trace Higginbotham (31) celebrates with middle linebacker Avery White (24) and defensive end Joel Reiser (21) after sacking Moss Point quarterback Ruben Lee (not pictured) on =Sept. 29 at East Central High School in Hurley. Special to the Sun Herald

On Sept. 29, Region 7-4A had its early season Super Bowl with Poplarville pulling out an exciting 54-36 win over Greene County.

This upcoming Friday, Region 8-4A gets its turn.

East Central will play host to St. Stanislaus in a game that seems all but certain to decide who will get the No. 1 seed out of 8-4A.

East Central, which has been consistently ranked as the No. 3 team in South Mississippi by the Sun Herald, improved to 6-0 and 2-0 with a 48-0 demolition of No. 10 Pass Christian Friday night. The Hornets led 41-0 at the half after playing some of its best football of the season.

East Central coach Seth Smith understands the gravity of Friday night's home game.

"It's as big as any (game) we've had in the past," Smith said. "Our mentality has to be the biggest one is the next one."

St. Stanislaus (4-3, 2-0) also made it look easy Friday night, topping rival Bay High 31-0 in the "Battle for the Crab Trap."

East Central and St. Stanislaus met in a barn burner last season that finished with a 70-50 victory for the Rockachaws. SSC quarterback Myles Brennan, who is now at LSU, completed 41 of 45 passes for 543 yards and eight touchdowns.

There won't be nearly as many points scored this week with both teams playing much improved defense. East Central has given up only 41 points all season and hasn't given up any points on defense since Sept. 8 in a 31-7 victory over Jefferson Davis County.

Smith likes the direction his team is headed after Friday night's win at Pass Christian.

"The encouraging part is we played a sloppy first half last week and we came out this week and played our best first half of the year," Smith said. "That shows you the kids are getting better. As long as you're getting better, you have a chance to be successful."

Picayune picking up

With No. 2 Picayune (6-1, 3-0) surviving its trip to Stone High, 42-35, Friday night, the Maroon Tide's Oct. 20 trip to Hattiesburg is looking more and more like the game that will decide Region 4-5A.

At the moment, it seems like Hattiesburg is ready to steam roll its way to the region championship considering the gaudy numbers it's putting up. Hattiesburg (7-0, 3-0) has scored at least 42 points in each of the last five games and at least 53 in four of those contests.

Picayune may be the only team in the region that can score with Hattiesburg. Senior running back Shaun Anderson put up some of the biggest numbers of the season Friday night, running 19 times for 401 yards and five touchdowns.

Picayune first has to survive its trip to Long Beach (5-2, 2-1) this week before it can start preparing for high-scoring Hattiesburg.

Game Ball

Hancock (5-2, 2-1) had some momentum when it traveled to Gulfport Friday night, but the Admirals' defense put a stop to the Hawks in a 26-7 victory at Milner Stadium.

Gulfport had the perfect game plan against Hancock and that's why Admirals head coach Eddie Pierce gets this week's Game Ball for the top coaching performance in South Mississippi Friday night.

Gulfport improved to 4-3 overall and 3-0 in Region 4-6A to become the only undefeated team remaining in the region.

Gulfport is the favorite in 4-6A at the moment, but it will have to make three road trips in its final four regular season games.

"Our defense has rebounded the last three weeks," Pierce said. "We had a tough stretch there at the beginning. I'm proud of them, proud of the way they played. It's good to be 3-0 in the region."

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