High School Sports

Patrick’s Picks: East Central can reach historic goal Friday night

East Central Hornets running back Tony Brown (4) runs the ball against St. Stanislaus Rockachaws in Hurley on Oct. 13.
East Central Hornets running back Tony Brown (4) runs the ball against St. Stanislaus Rockachaws in Hurley on Oct. 13. Special to the Sun Herald

The last time East Central won a region title, Dodd Lee was the head coach and Chad Huff was the star running back.

It was 1993 and the Hornets finished the regular season 10-0 before falling 36-28 to Columbia in the first round of the playoffs.

Twenty-four years later, Lee is one of the most respected high school coaches in the state of Mississippi at Picayune and Huff is in his fourth year as the head coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

At East Central, Lee's son-in-law, Seth Smith, is the head coach and the list of star players on the Hornets' roster goes well beyond a single player.

If East Central gets the victory at winless Bay High Friday night, the program will earn its first region championship since 1993. The Hornets will be a heavy favorite to win Friday night and on Oct. 27 at Vancleave in the regular season finale.

Smith's group will look to avoid the 1993 team's first-round fate when the Class 4A playoffs begin on Nov. 3.

My prediction for Friday night: East Central 42, Bay High 7.

Here is how I see the other games playing out Friday night:

Gulfport 31, D'Iberville 24: If the Admirals (5-3, 4-0) can win on the road Friday night, they will be one win away from locking up the top seed in Region 4-6A.

Hancock 31, Harrison Central 20: Hancock (6-2, 3-1) has the most diverse offense on the Coast while Harrison Central (3-5, 2-2) relies almost exclusively on the ground game.

Ocean Springs 21, St. Martin 17: The winner of this game will preserve their playoff hopes. The Greyhounds (3-5, 1-3) are looking for their third consecutive win over St. Martin (4-4, 1-3).

Pascagoula 28, Biloxi 17: The Panthers (3-5, 1-3) hope that last week's 31-30 win over Ocean Springs in overtime is a sign that they're ready to turn the corner. Biloxi's offense took a significant step back in a 31-3 loss at St. Martin last Friday.

Terry 28, George County 14: Terry (6-3, 2-2) pulled off an impressive 28-27 win at Oak Grove last week as George County (2-7, 1-3) faces another difficult Region 3-6A contest.

Hattiesburg 38, Picayune 31: Hattiesburg (8-0, 4-0) has scored at least 56 points in the last four games. Picayune (7-1, 4-0) will have to play its best defensive game of the year.

Stone 27, Wayne County 24: This contest starts a crucial three-game stretch for Stone High (4-3, 2-2). If the Tomcats can beat Wayne County Friday night and Long Beach in the regular season finale, they'll be the No. 3 seed in Region 4-5A.

Long Beach 35, West Harrison 14: The Bearcats (5-3, 2-2) should pick up a win here before entering two crucial contests against Hattiesburg and Stone High to close out the regular season.

Gautier 24, Pearl River Central 17: Gautier (2-6, 1-3) needs this win before closing out with Picayune and Wayne County.

Pass Christian 17, Vancleave 14: After getting shut out on back to back weeks, Vancleave showed life on offense in a 40-23 win at Bay High. Pass Christian's defense bounced back last week in a 12-0 shutout at Moss Point. The Pirates (4-4, 2-1) can lock up a spot in the playoffs with a win.

St. Stanislaus 28, Moss Point 13: St. Stanislaus (4-4, 2-1) is in good shape for the playoffs, but a win here erases any doubts.

Poplarville 42, Purvis 17: Poplarville (8-0, 3-0) is coming off a pair of shutout wins, but Purvis (4-4, 2-1) is one of the better teams in Region 7-4A.

Resurrection 31, Lumberton 28: Resurrection (4-5, 3-1) has its toughest game remaining on the schedule Friday night against a Lumberton team that is 6-2 overall and 3-0 in region play.

Clarkdale 27, St. Patrick 14: This is a non-region contest before St. Patrick (2-6, 0-3) closes out the regular season against Collins.

Briarfield Academy (La.) 28, CCA 14: Briarfield Academy is 6-2 overall and 4-1 in district play headed into Friday night's game against CCA (4-4, 3-2).