High School Sports

Patrick’s Picks: Five South Mississippi teams vie for South State bids

If you counted out the Resurrection football team after four consecutive losses to begin the season, you were mistaken.

RCS (6-6) will play host to Lumberton (10-3) at 7 p.m. Friday at Gautier High School with a spot in the Class 1A South State title game on the line.

The Eagles started out 0-4 against a tough non-region slate, but managed to recover in region play to earn the No. 3 seed in Region 4-1A. Their only two region defeats came in tight games on the road at Lumberton and Stringer.

RCS gets its shot at revenge after losing 26-22 at Lumberton on Oct. 20 and head coach Scott Sisson likes where his team is headed.

“This is the healthiest we’ve been all year these last two weeks,” Sisson said.

One big boost for the Eagles has been the play of senior running back Jerry Johnson, who sat out most of the season with an injury. He has 134 carries for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns.

RCS senior quarterback Blake Porter has been one of the most productive passers on the Coast this season, completing 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,170 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His favorite target is fellow senior receiver Patrick Roth, who leads the Coast with 45 catches for 852 yards and nine scores.

The winner of Friday night’s game will face the winner of Nanih Waiya-Stringer in the next round.

My pick — Resurrection 31, Lumberton 21.

Here’s how I see the rest of Friday night’s playoff games shaking out:

Pearl 38, Hancock 20: The Pearl Pirates roll in at 13-0 and it’s hard to see them slowing down on their home field Friday night.

Pearl features a nicely balanced offense that has 2,307 yards passing and 1,878 yards rushing. Senior quarterback Jake Smithhart has been very efficient, completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 26 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Hancock (10-2) showed last week that it can’t be underestimated with a 30-27 win over Brandon, which pushed Pearl to overtime in a 28-27 game on Nov. 3.

The Hawks’ defense has been steady all season, but it will have to play its best game of the season against Pearl Friday night.

Hattiesburg 35, Stone High 27: I don’t expect a repeat of Hattiesburg’s 62-27 destruction of the Tomcats from Sept. 29. Stone High (8-3) should put in a much cleaner effort this time and it plays the style of ball that can give Hattiesburg issues.

Hattiesburg (12-0) is led by junior quarterback Jarod Conner, who can hurt you on the ground just as easily as he can throwing the ball. He has completed 56.2 percent of his passes for 1,976 yards, 21 touchdowns and two interceptions. He has run 149 times for 1,074 yards and 23 scores.

If the Stone High can find a way to slow down Conner, the Tomcats have a chance.

East Central 45, South Pike 17: It would be healthy for the Hornets (11-0) to be truly tested in the playoffs, but they shouldn’t have much of a problem against the Eagles (11-3) from Magnolia.

South Pike’s 30-25 win over Greene County last week was impressive, but it had to fight hard to beat Moss Point and Lanier — two teams that East Central thumped by a combined score of 119-25.

Poplarville 42, Purvis 27: Poplarville (12-0) has been tested the last two weeks, but the Hornets just have too much firepower on offense for opponents to keep up.

Purvis (6-6) has put up plenty of points this season, but it’s unlikely they’ll be able to keep pace Friday night.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee