High School Sports

Can Region 4-6A finally produce another playoff victory?

St. Martin quarterback Landon Pankonin (4) is tackled by D'Iberville defensive end Josh Quinn (42) Friday in St. Martin.
St. Martin quarterback Landon Pankonin (4) is tackled by D'Iberville defensive end Josh Quinn (42) Friday in St. Martin. Special to the Sun Herald

The field is set and there are 10 teams remaining in the postseason in South Mississippi.

While St. Martin lost 31-16 to D'Iberville Friday night, you can argue that the Yellow Jackets have more reason to celebrate than anybody.

St. Martin (6-5) is in the playoffs for the first time since 2003 after coming frustratingly close to ending that skid the last few years. The Yellow Jackets, who are the No. 4 seed out of Region 4-6A, have the tall task of traveling to undefeated Pearl (12-0) in the first round.

D'Iberville earned the No. 3 seed in 4-6A and has to have some confidence headed into the postseason with back-to-back wins. The Warriors (5-6) were viewed as the preseason favorite to win the region and they can't be taken lightly when they travel to Petal (7-4) in the first round.

No. 1 seed Gulfport (8-3) will play host to Meridian (5-6) on Friday. If the Admirals can get junior quarterback T.Q. Newsome back from injury, they have the best chance at making a run out of 4-6A.

No. 2 seed Hancock (9-2) will be on its home field Friday night, but the Hawks will face a battle tested Brandon team that is much better than its 7-5 record indicates.

If a 4-6A team wins a playoff game this Friday, it mark the first time that's happened since D'Iberville and Ocean Springs won first-round games in 2014.

4-5A produces contenders

While most folks aren't giving 4-6A teams much of a chance to to win South State, Region 4-5A may have the top two contenders in Hattiesburg (11-0) and Picayune (9-2).

Region champion Hattiesburg will host South Jones (8-4) on Friday while No. 2 seed Picayune will take on the same Laurel team (7-4) that eliminated the Maroon Tide in the 5A South State title game a year ago.

No. 3 seed Stone High also can't be counted out to begin the playoffs. The Tomcats (7-3) will travel to West Jones (8-3) in the first round.

Wayne County (6-5) may not have played up to the standard we've come to expect from the War Eagles, but they'll have a chance to pull a stunner with a game at Brookhaven (10-1).

Three left in 4A

There are three teams from the state's southernmost six counties remaining in the Class 4A playoffs and two will face off in the second round with Sun Herald No. 1 Poplarville (11-0) traveling to St. Stanislaus (6-5). As past region mates, Poplarville and SSC have plenty of history between the two of them. They last played in the second round of the playoffs in 2015 with the Rockachaws winning 33-21.

East Central (10-0) will have a much tougher task in the second round after thumping Lanier 63-13 Friday night. The Hornets will play host to West Lauderdale, which is 8-4 and has won eight of its last nine games.

Class 1A Resurrection beat East Marion 55-34 Thursday night and will travel to French Camp Academy in the first round.

Game Ball

The 30-7 loss to Pass Christian in the regular season finale caused concern that St. Stanislaus had hit a wall, but the Rockachaws bounced back on the road with a 35-7 win at McComb in the first round of the playoffs.

Thanks to that rebound victory, St. Stanislaus coach Jeff Jordan receives this week's Game Ball for the top coaching performance in South Mississippi.

With Poplarville senior running back Austin Bolton not quite 100 percent healthy, St. Stanislaus may have a shot at a second-round upset in Bay St. Louis.