Patrick Magee

After a rough Friday, Coast’s title hopes rest with 3 football squads

Poplarville running back Austin Bolton looks for room to run on Friday against Quitman in Poplarville.
Poplarville running back Austin Bolton looks for room to run on Friday against Quitman in Poplarville. Picayune Item

It's fair to say that Friday night's slate of high school football games did not go as planned for South Mississippi.

There are only three football teams left standing in the playoffs in the state's southernmost six counties after eight squads lost their games Friday night.

The three survivors are Picayune in Class 5A, Poplarville in Class 4A and Resurrection Catholic in Class 1A.

For the second consecutive season, all four Region 4-6A teams lost their first round playoff games. The last time a 4-6A team won a postseason game was in 2014 when D'Iberville and Ocean Springs came up victorious before falling in the second round.

In the eight years since Class 6A was first established in Mississippi, 6A teams from the Coast are a combined 7-28 in the playoffs. The only 6A team to win a second round playoff game during that stretch was Ocean Springs in 2009.

It's been a disappointing run for the Coast's biggest football programs, but a group of smaller schools again appear capable of making runs at South State.

SSC stunner

The most stunning development from Friday night was Mendenhall's 30-22 win over St. Stanislaus in overtime. The Rockachaws were in pursuit of their third consecutive 4A South State title in quarterback Myles Brennan's swan song season, but had their hopes dashed in the second round on the road.

Even if SSC had won Friday, it's no sure thing it would have gotten past Poplarville this week and into the 4A South State title game.

Poplarville (10-1) will travel to Mendenhall (8-5) after topping Quitman 33-12 Friday night. The winner of Poplarville-Mendenhall will play the victor of Purvis-Florence in the 4A South State title game.

While much of the talk early in the season was about Poplarville's strong ground game led by junior Austin Bolton and senior Jesse Pernell, the Hornets have shown that they also have one of the better defenses in Class 4A.

Maroon Tide rolls

Picayune (11-1) made short work of Wingfield, 63-30, Friday night to advance to host Wayne County in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.

It will mark the fourth consecutive season that Picayune and Wayne County have met in the playoffs and the Maroon Tide will have plenty of motivation after losing by a combined score of 100-35 in the last two postseason meetings with the War Eagles. Picayune won the 2013 playoff game 31-14.

This is a very different Picayune team and it will be the favorite on its home field Friday night.

Resurrection (10-2) will face the toughest task this week after dominating Noxapater 17-6 Friday night. The Eagles will make the 210-mile trip to Louisville to take on a Nanih Waiya team that is 12-1 and features this season's Class 1A Mr. Football, Chris Smith, a versatile junior who makes a big impact at running back and defensive back.

The Coast hopes to avoid not having a representative in a state title game for the first time since 2010.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee