Sports Guys: Picayune should advance in football playoffs, Poplarville, Resurrection have tough roads
The three Coast teams remaining in the MHSAA football playoffs back up the idea that if you run the ball well and hold onto it, you've got a good chance of lasting well into the postseason.
The three teams left to represent the Coast are Picayune, Poplarville and Resurrection Catholic.
I picked the area's high school football teams to go 7-5 in the playoffs a week. Instead, they finished 3-9.
Poplarville and Picayune appear to be in good position to advance to the Class 4A and 5A South State finals while Resurrection will be the underdog on the road at Nanih Waiya in a Class 1A South State semifinal.
While there were plenty of pass-happy teams that put up big numbers this season on the Coast like St. Stanislaus, George County and St. Martin, the three remaining teams are all known for their strong ground games.
Resurrection has 2,847 rushing yards, Poplarville has rushed for 3,955 and Picayune has put up a whopping total of 4,813 rushing yards.
After Patrick's Picks went 8-4 a week ago, we focus on the three games on the slate Friday night:
Nanih Waiya 24, Resurrection 14: The Resurrection Eagles have shown gradual improvement in the final weeks of the season.
Resurrection sits at 10-2 and could easily be undefeated. The Eagles had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown in each of their two losses this season – 35-28 at Pass Christian and 20-17 to Lumberton.
Nanih Waiya (12-1) is riding a 12-game winning streak after losing 32-14 at Union in the season opener. The Warriors feature this season's Class 1A Mr. Football in junior athlete Chris Smith, who has accounted for 33 touchdowns. He has scored in nearly every facet of the game.
If Resurrection can account for Smith and senior running back Patrick Watts can continue to pound out tough yardage up the middle, the Eagles have a chance to advance to the Class 1A South State final.
The winnner of Resurrection-Nanih Waiya will play the winner of Stringer-Lumberton in the Class 1A South State title game.
Picayune 28, Wayne County 20: The War Eagles have put it on Picayune pretty good the last two times they've played in the postseason.
Picayune senior running back Josh Littles is a bit of a question mark with a sore ankle, but it may not matter who is carrying the ball for the Maroon Tide (11-1). Junior Shaun Anderson is a threat to take it to the house at all times. He has run 84 times for 992 yards and eight scores this season, averaging 11.8 yards a carry.
Wayne County (7-5) is always a tough team to handle, but Picayune has the home field advantage and a chip on its shoulder.
The Picayune-Wayne County winner will play the winner of Laurel-Hattiesburg in the 5A South State final.
Poplarville 42, Mendenhall 27: The Mendenhall football team (8-5) pulled the state's biggest shocker last week in a 30-22 overtime win over two-time defending Class 4A South State champion St. Stanislaus.
Mendenhall features a potent offense, but it's going up against a Poplarville team (10-1) that's strong on both sides of the ball.
Senior Jesse Pernell and junior Austin Bolton give Poplarville an impressive running back duo and the Hornets’ defense has proven tough during their 10-game winning streak.
Bolton and Pernell have both rushed the ball 155 times this year. Bolton has 1,331 yards and 16 touchdowns while Pernell has 1,374 yards and 22 touchdowns.
The winner of Poplarville-Mendenhall will play the winner of Florence-Purvis in the Class 4A South State final.