High School Sports

East Central, St. Stanislaus set for ‘astronomical’ battle in Hurley

East Central running back Tony Brown (4) runs for a long touchdown against Moss Point on Sept. 29 in Hurley.
East Central running back Tony Brown (4) runs for a long touchdown against Moss Point on Sept. 29 in Hurley. Special to the Sun Herald

Last year’s East Central-St. Stanislaus game in Bay St. Louis was an epic shootout that ended with the Rockachaws walking away with a 70-50 victory.

While you can expect another thrilling game from the same two teams Friday night in Hurley, it’s unlikely we’ll see a similar barn burner.

SSC’s quarterback from a year ago, Myles Brennan, is taking snaps at LSU and the East Central defense has allowed only 41 points total through six games.

“They’re much more physical defensively,” St. Stanislaus coach Jeff Jordan said Wednesday of East Central. “I’d say that we probably have the two best safeties in South Mississippi in (East Central senior Andrew Seward) and our senior, J.D. Rutherford. They’re both great players, physical. They’re kind of clones of each other. They’re aggressive, downhill players that make a lot of plays. Both kids seem like they’re the heart and soul of the defense.”

With Seward and Rutherford setting the tone, both defenses have been stellar this season. St. Stanislaus has shutouts in three of its last four games while East Central hasn’t allowed an offensive score since the first possession of the 31-7 win over Jefferson Davis County on Sept. 8.

SSC offense

While the East Central defense has been dominant over the last five weeks, it faces its stiffest challenge yet on Friday. The Hornets have yet to face a team capable of hurting them in the passing game and SSC features senior quarterback Jake Greer, who has proven more than up to the task in taking over the offense.

Greer has completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 1,388 yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s also a threat to take off with the ball, running 58 times for 360 yards and four touchdowns.

“They lost a kid who is playing at LSU and that’s a tremendous loss, but I don’t think enough credit has been given to the kid they have now (at quarterback),” East Central coach Seth Smith said. “I think their quarterback, Greer, is an excellent high school quarterback and they have a lot of people around him. They have enough parts back to be a really good football team.”

ECHS offense

While St. Stanislaus will be focused on slowing down Tony Brown and the vaunted ECHS rushing attack, East Central can hurt you just as easily in the passing game with senior quarterback Rylee Brown and senior receiver/tight end Brad Cumbest, who has 18 catches for 324 yards and four touchdowns.

“He’s an SEC player,” Jordan said of Cumbest. “He reminds me a lot of the guys we had last year. He’s a hybrid between (Air Force signee) Corbin Blanchard and (Louisiana-Lafayette tight end) Chase Rogers. He catch stretch the field and he’s long and tall. We’ve got to game plan for him.”

Region 8-4A

The outcome of Friday night’s game seems almost certain to decide Region 8-4A. As the only two undefeated teams in region play, East Central (6-0, 2-0) and St. Stanislaus (4-3, 2-0) have a big advantage on the rest of 8-4A.

Smith said that he can sense that the Hurley community is a little more excited than usual for the big game.

“The community has done a great job of coming out all season,” he said. “They’re hyped up more than the other ones, but we try keep it in perspective for the kids. Every game is meaningful.”

For Jordan, there’s no denying the importance of Friday’s contest.

“We’ve got more games to play and they do too, but I would be fibbing to you if I didn’t say the magnitude of this game wasn’t astronomical,” Jordan said. “It would be a luxury for either team to have the No. 1 seed. We’re approaching this as a playoff type game.”

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee

Game plan

Who: St. Stanislaus vs. East Central

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: Hurley

Video: FNUTL.com

Online: For all of Friday night’s scores as they happen, visit SunHerald.com for a LIVE scoreboard.