Bay High coach Eric Collins and Kevin Fant of Vancleave have both had impressive debut seasons at their new schools, but only one team can advance to the postseason when the Bulldogs host the Tigers.
Friday night’s game in Vancleave will decide the No. 4 seed in Region 8-4A and who will land a postseason bid.
Bay High (5-3, 0-3) is trying to end a three-game kid while Vancleave (4-5, 1-2) is looking to rebound from consecutive losses to Pass Christian and St. Stanislaus.
Vancleave is the only 8-4A team to beat region champion Moss Point this year, but that won’t mean much if the Bulldogs lose the regular season finale.
Vancleave offers a balanced offensive scheme led by junior quarterback Christian Kell and sophomore running Dayan Bilbo.
Bay High hopes sophomore running back Noah Cutter and a ground-and-pound rushing attack will prove to be the difference.
My pick: Vancleave 31, Bay High 28.
D’Iberville 31, Harrison Central 14: The Red Rebels (4-5, 2-3) continue to have a hard time getting in the end zone and they need to win out to give themselves a shot at a playoff bid. D’Iberville (7-2, 4-1) is already in the playoffs, but they’ll need to keep winning to assure themselves of a home game in the first round.
Biloxi 35, Hancock 14: The Indians’ season appeared headed south with a 14-0 loss at Ocean Springs on Oct. 11, but credit has to be given to Katlan French and his staff for getting the team back on track. A win puts Biloxi (7-2, 3-2) in great position to reach the postseason. With 120 carries for 870 yards, Biloxi junior running back K.K. Kendrick is on pace to clear the 1,000-yard mark before the end of the season.
Petal 21, George County 20: This game in Lucedale is one of the more compelling matchups in the state. The move of junior M.J. Daniels to quarterback has proven productive for the Rebels (6-3, 3-2) over the last two weeks in wins over Pearl and Terry. George County is currently in a five-way tie for second place in Region 3-6A with Oak Grove, Pearl, Brandon and Northwest Rankin. A loss doesn’t eliminate George County from the playoffs, but a victory over first-place Petal (8-1, 5-0) would be a major boost.
Gulfport 24, Ocean Springs 17: Gulfport (7-2, 5-0) can lock up its third consecutive Region 4-6A championship against an Ocean Springs team that is playing tough defense. The Greyhounds (5-4, 4-1) have allowed a total of 16 points in their current three-game winning streak. Gulfport senior quarterback Cade Crosby and a gifted bunch of receivers have proven to be the edge in 4-6A play this season. Ocean Springs is close to earning a playoff bid, but it needs a Harrison Central loss this Friday to lock up a spot this week.
St. Martin 27, West Harrison 17: The St. Martin offense has hit a slump the last two weeks, and it needs a breakout performance to keep its postseason hopes alive. The Yellow Jackets are 6-3 overall and 2-3 in Region 4-6A.
East Central 28, Pearl River Central 24: The Hornets (5-4, 2-3) have entered dangerous territory after losing 35-25 to Pascagoula in Hurley last week. East Central should be favored to win at PRC (3-6, 2-3) on Friday, but the Blue Devils are capable of picking up the victory. East Central head coach Seth Smith and Pearl River Central head coach Jacob Owen are cousins, adding an extra element to a crucial contest for both teams. A Hattiesburg team (3-6, 2-3) that is playing much better comes to Hurley to close out the regular season next week.
Hattiesburg 30, Gautier 24: Gautier (2-7, 1-4) has lost four straight. Hattiesburg has won back to back games.
Poplarville 38, Sumrall 7: Poplarville (4-5, 3-1) shouldn’t have much trouble with a Sumrall team (3-7, 1-3) that’s lost four straight. The Hornets should be hosting a first-round playoff game next week.
Picayune 38, Pascagoula 20: The Sun Herald No. 1 Maroon Tide have had an easy time of it over the last four weeks, beating teams by an average of 51.5 points. They should face decent challenges in Pascagoula (5-4, 3-2) and Wayne County (7-2, 5-0) to close out the regular season. The Pascagoula trio of freshman quarterback Keilon Parnell, senior running back Cory Walker and junior running back Kayvon Barnes will give Picayune (9-0, 5-0) something to worry about.
Wayne County 42, Long Beach 10: With Pascagoula looming next week, Long Beach (1-8, 0-5) is facing a tough finish to the season.
Pass Christian 35, St. Stanislaus 31: The winner of this game will host a first-round playoff contest next week. The loser will be on the road. Pass Christian (6-3, 2-1) has to still be stinging after dropping a 31-28 game to Moss Point, which clinched the Region 8-4A championship with the win. Senior quarterback Max Favre has thrown for 25 touchdowns over the last five games for St. Stanislaus (6-3, 2-1).
Collins 28, St. Patrick 20: The winner of this game at St. Patrick (5-4, 0-3) will clinch a playoff bid as the No. 4 seed in Region 8-2A. Collins is 2-7 overall and 1-2 in region play. The St. Patrick offense has produced only 24 points through three region contests.
Stone 28, Forrest County AHS 14: The winner of this game will travel to Moss Point in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Sun Herald Top 5
1. Picayune (9-0, 5-0).
2. Gulfport (7-2, 5-0).
3. George County (6-3, 3-2).
4. D’Iberville (7-2, 4-1).
5. Ocean Springs (5-4, 4-1).
Bay High at Vancleave
Harrison Central at D’Iberville
Biloxi at Hancock
Petal at George County
Ocean Springs at Gulfport
St. Martin at West Harrison
East Central at Pearl River Central
Gautier at Hattiesburg
Pascagoula at Picayune
Wayne County at Long Beach
St. Stanislaus at Pass Christian
Sumrall at Poplarville
Collins at St. Patrick
Resurrection at Salem
Forrest County AHS at Stone High