Region 4-6A is a mess.
The Coast’s eight-team Class 6A division is a completely jumbled group outside of Gulfport — as the Admirals accurately pointed out on Twitter over the weekend — and to a slightly lesser extent Hancock.
The Admirals (5-3) are sitting pretty at 4-0 with three weeks left in the season, while the Hawks (6-2) are 3-1.
After those two, however, there’s plenty of guaranteed chaos with Biloxi (2-6), Harrison Central (3-5) and D’Iberville (3-5) sitting at 2-2, while St. Martin (4-4), Ocean Springs (3-5) and newcomer Pascagoula (3-5) are all clinging to postseason hopes at 1-3.
The good news is no one is eliminated just yet; the bad news is a couple teams could be out in the cold after Friday’s games.
“Every year it does this. It’s fun,” HCHS coach Casey Cain said before Tuesday’s practice. “I know some people like to go and have early predictions but you can’t predict this district too soon.”
With each team muscling for positioning, and every region game carrying plenty of weight, it’s not uncommon for coaches to ask post-game about other results around 4-6A as they try to mentally compute their team’s standing.
“It’s kind of like a round robin where we’re all beating on each other,” new Hancock coach Neil Lollar said Thursday. “Every week somebody wins one you may not have expected.
“It’s not necessarily a shocker because everyone is so close; it’s a matter of who makes a play on Friday night.”
There’s a balance Lollar’s team, and others for that matter, must keep as the season trends into must-win scenarios.
“You have to be leery of what others are doing, but you have to do what you do,” he said. “Hancock has to take care of Hancock.”
While the Hawks currently sit alone in second place, they’re not celebrating anything just yet. They know first hand how a team can still surge up — or plummet — through the rankings.
“This senior class was in ninth grade when we last made the playoffs in 2014. They understand we started district 0-3 (and then won our next four to qualify for the playoffs) and so they know anything is possible,” Lollar said. “They’re at least a little cautious of getting ahead of themselves. That’s due the leaders on the team.”
Friday’s 7 p.m. matchup between Hancock and Harrison Central in Lyman will feature one of the state’s top running backs in Red Rebel senior Keon Moore along with a versatile Hawk offense and a HHS defense that Cain said boasts one of Mississippi’s top linebackers.
“They have some really good athletes,” Cain said, highlighting offensive weapons Marquis Cherry, Rondell Womack, Brooks Rayburn along with linebacker Trenton Ladner. “They do a good job coaching but they have some really good players. We have our work cut out for us.”
The Red Rebels have relied heavily on Moore offensively. The senior has played his natural position but he has also taken snaps at quarterback and split out wide at receiver. Moore’s versatility has added a wrinkle to the Hawks’ game preparation.
“They’re absolutely going to try to do what they do, which is feature Keon. I don’t blame them one bit. He’s a special all-state running back who has proven himself year in and year out,” Lollar said. “You have to be aware of him and cautious of where he lines up.
“You have to play sound football no matter where he is.”
The HHS-HCHS series has gone back and forth in the last decade, with the Red Rebels picking up wins in 2007, ’08, ’12, ’13 and ’15.
Other 4-6A matchups include Pascagoula at Biloxi, Gulfport at D’Iberville and St. Martin at Ocean Springs.
Region 4-6A remaining schedule
At. St. Martin
At Harrison Central
At Harrison Central
At Ocean Springs