The region champions are coming into focus in South Mississippi, but there are plenty of playoff bids to be decided over the next couple of weeks.
East Central clinched its first region title since 1993 with a 54-13 win at Bay High Friday night. The Hornets are 8-0 overall and 4-0 in Region 8-4A.
East Central will travel to Vancleave in the regular season finale before playing host to the No. 4 seed out of Region 6-4A, which will likely be either Lanier or Florence.
Poplarville (9-0, 4-0) locked up the top seed in Region 7-4A with a 69-34 victory over Purvis. The Hornets travel to Lawrence County before hosting the No. 4 seed out of Region 5-4A in the first round of the playoffs.
Gulfport (6-3, 5-0) can lock up the Region 4-6A title with one more victory, but its path to the No. 1 seed may have become a little tougher Friday night after junior quarterback T.Q. Newsome went down with an injury in a 34-14 win at D'Iberville. If Newsome is sidelined for a significant amount of time, Gulfport's chances of making a postseason run will likely be diminished.
Hattiesburg (9-0, 5-0) took firm hold of first place in Region 4-5A with a 41-37 victory at Picayune (7-2, 4-1) on Friday. The Tigers will be heavy favorites when they take on Long Beach and West Harrison over the final two weeks of the regular season.
The Class 4A playoffs will begin on Nov. 3 while the 5A and 6A postseasons won't get going until Nov. 10.
8-4A playoff pursuit
Vancleave (3-6, 2-2) faces the daunting task of hosting East Central in the regular season finale Friday night, but the Bulldogs are very much in the hunt to be one of the four playoff teams out of Region 8-4A.
East Central, St. Stanislaus (5-4, 3-1) and Pass Christian (4-5, 2-2) have already clinched playoff berths.
If Vancleave beats East Central, it's in the postseason. If the Bulldogs lose to East Central, they can still get in if Bay High (0-9, 0-4) beats Moss Point (2-8, 1-3).
Moss Point simply has to beat Bay High to to earn a playoff bid as the No. 4 seed.
If Pass Christian finishes at 2-3 and in a three-way tie for third place with Vancleave and Moss Point, Pass Christian would advance as the No. 3 seed due to a point differential advantage over both teams at plus-3. Moss Point would advance as the No. 4 seed with a point differential of zero. Vancleave would be left out with a negative-3 point differential.
Moss Point beat Vancleave 14-0 and lost to Pass Christian 12-0. Vancleave beat Pass Christian 23-14 Friday night.
The St. Martin football team broke a 13-year drought against Ocean Springs Friday night, winning 31-28 at Greyhound Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets (5-4, 2-3) have won back-to-back games to remain in the playoff discussion with two games remaining.
Thanks to Friday's big victory, St. Martin coach Eddie Wayne Whitehead earns this week's Game Ball for the top coaching performance.
St. Martin will travel to Pascagoula this week before closing out the regular season with a home game against rival D'Iberville.