For 20 straight games, the Gulfport football team has owned the rest of Region 4-6A.
At 7 p.m. on Friday at D’Iberville, the Admirals face one of their most difficult tests since they last lost a region contest on Oct. 21, 2016 — a 20-17 defeat to D’Iberville at Milner Stadium.
The Warriors (7-1, 4-0) appear to be the 4-6A team best built to beat Gulfport this season as a squad that has plenty of talented options in the ground game, including Mississippi State signee Jaden Walley, a senior who can hurt you throwing the ball, catching it and running with it.
While Walley is the most dynamic member of the D’Iberville offense, the Warriors (6-2, 4-0) do a good job of spreading the ball around. Walley has run 79 times for 580 yards and two other players have more than 60 carries this season — junior Justice Davis and senior Cameron Fairley.
The Gulfport defense has been somewhat susceptible to a good rushing attack this season. Just two weeks ago, Gulfport gave up 282 yards on 46 carries in a 31-28 victory over Hancock.
While indicators point to D’Iberville possibly having the edge on its home field, you can’t rule out the fact that Gulfport has consistently been the better prepared team in region play over the last three seasons. You can expect head coach John Archie and his staff to have his team ready to go.
Gulfport senior quarterback Cade Crosby and a gifted group of skill players should allow the Admirals to hang with D’Iberville in the event of a shootout.
My pick: D’Iberville 31, Gulfport 28.
A total of eight games featuring South Mississippi teams were moved from Friday to 7 p.m. on Thursday, leaving a total of five games to be played Friday night. The Pearl River Centra-Picayune game was moved to Saturday. That means eight of the games in my picks will have already been played by the time you read this in the Sun Herald’s print edition.
I’ll run off my picks for Friday’s games first:
East Central 28, Pascagoula 20: This contest is crucial for both teams’ playoff hopes, and the winner will be in good position to earn the No. 3 seed in Region 4-5A. East Central rolls in at 5-3 and 2-2 while Pascagoula is 4-4 and 2-2. East Central senior running back Dylan Grinsteinner has 127 carries for 1,260 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior Teshun McGee should become the next Hornet to hit 1,000 yards with 85 carries for 969 yards and 15 touchdowns. This game should turn into a nice rivalry with time.
Hancock 24, Harrison Central 17: Harrison Central (3-5, 1-3) has managed just seven points over the last two games. Hancock (3-5, 0-4) is in good shape for its first region win if senior running back Sebastian Fausett gets rolling. He has 149 carries for 901 yards and nine touchdowns.
Lumberton 28, Resurrection 14: Lumberton (7-2, 6-0) has rolled over the rest of Region 4-1A, giving up just 41 points in six region contests. Lumberton junior running back Robert Henry has been a touchdown machine this season with 117 carries for 1,466 yards and 24 touchdowns. Resurrection (7-1, 5-1) suffered its first loss of the season, 20-17 at Sebastopol, last week and it would be a huge upset if the Eagles find a way to pick up the home win at Gautier.
Pass Christian 35, Moss Point 27: This game has the makings of another Region 8-4A shootout. Both teams have already locked up playoff bids and Moss Point can surge into the region championship picture with a win over the Pirates. At the moment, Pass Christian (6-2, 2-0) is atop the standings all by itself. Pass Christian QB Dustin Allison and Moss Point QB Ruben Lee have combined to throw for 4,042 yards and 43 touchdowns this season.
Picayune 45, Pearl River Central 21: This game is one of the more underrated rivalries in South Mississippi, but it hasn’t been very competitive the last three seasons with Picayune dominating the series. It’s difficult to see No. 1 Picayune (8-0, 4-0) slowing down with senior Cameron Thomas carrying the rock.
Wayne County 38, Gautier 20: The War Eagles (6-2, 4-0) have emerged as the second-best team in Region 4-5A and they have the potential to put a scare into Picayune in the Nov. 8 regular season finale in Waynesboro. Gautier (2-6, 1-3) needs a win in a hurry to end a three-game losing streak.
George County 28, Terry 10: If the season ended today, George County (5-3, 2-2) would be in the playoffs thanks to wins over Oak Grove and Pearl, who are both tied for fourth place with the Rebels in Region 3-6A. However, this game at Terry is a must-win for George County’s playoff pursuit.
Poplarville 31, Greene County 20: The Hornets (4-4, 3-0) have come to life in Region 7-4A play, but Greene County (5-3, 3-0) has been every bit as dominant. Poplarville is outscoring opponents 146-14 in region play and Greene County has handled region opponents by a total score of 109-7. After a 61-0 drubbing of Purvis, I’m not betting against Poplarville.
Hattiesburg 31, Long Beach 24: Hattiesburg (2-6, 1-3) found some life last week in a 35-25 win at Pearl River Central. Long Beach (1-7, 0-4) is on a five-game losing streak.
Ocean Springs 28, St. Martin 27: Ocean Springs (4-4, 3-1) had to overcome some players sitting out with an illness last week in a 21-14 win at West Harrison. St. Martin (6-2, 2-2) needs this game badly after falling 28-14 to Biloxi last week.
Stone High 27, Sumrall 20: Stone High (1-6, 0-3) has a great chance to end a four-game skid at Sumrall (3-6, 0-3).
St. Stanislaus 34, Vancleave 28: The Rockachaws (5-3, 1-1) rely almost entirely on the passing game, and they’ll need another big game from QB Max Favre to take down a scrappy Vancleave squad (4-4, 1-1).
Biloxi 31, West Harrison 10: West Harrison (1-7, 0-4) is getting closer and closer to beating a Region 4-6A team for the first time, but Biloxi (6-2, 2-2) appeared to regain its footing against St. Martin last week.