While Biloxi-East Central and D’Iberville-Picayune stand out as two of the biggest games Friday night, you can’t underestimate the importance of the Harrison Central-Stone High game in Perkinston.
For Stone High, it’s the season opener in John Feaster’s second campaign as head coach. The Tomcats were one of the resurgent programs on the Coast last year with a record of 8-4, but they have plenty of production to replace.
Feaster has to find a new workhorse running back following the graduation of his top rusher Terrion Avery, who rushed 290 times for 2,271 yards and 26 touchdowns last season. It didn’t take long for Feaster to get his offense rolling in year No. 1 so I don’t expect it to slow down much this year.
Harrison Central (0-1) needs a rebound after falling 25-10 to Jefferson Davis County, a Class 3A program that was created following the merger of Bassfield and Prentiss. The Red Rebels have to find a way to get past last week’s defeat and get a win before losing becomes a habit.
I see the Tomcats rolling in Perkinston – Stone High 28, Harrison Central 21.
The other games:
East Central 31, Biloxi 17: Nobody had more tough luck last week than Bobby Hall’s Biloxi Indians. Senior quarterback Brodie King is out at least four weeks with an injury, leaving that position up in the air. East Central sat out last week following an impressive showing against Pascagoula in the jamboree. I don’t see the Hornets slowing down in the opener in Hurley.
D’Iberville 28, Picayune 27: The Maroon Tide was in great shape against Poplarville last week with a 24-13 lead at the half before Poplarville rallied for a 27-24 victory. After falling apart in the second half in the 5A South State game last year against Laurel, Picayune has to find a way to close out games again.
Gulf Breeze (Fla.) 28, Pascagoula 14: The Panthers head out of state Friday night after winning 24-6 over rival Moss Point last week. The Gulf Breeze Dolphins, a 6A program, are coming off a 9-2 season. Senior running back Dalvin Abney has to give ‘Goula a big game to have a chance to win on the road.
Madison Central 31, Ocean Springs 14: Madison Central is coming off an impressive 10-3 win over Brandon while Ocean Springs was stunned last week 31-21 by Gautier. Ocean Springs, which is at home this week, is one of the biggest underdogs on the Coast this week.
Escambia (Fla.) Academy 20, Resurrection 17: These two teams met in Atmore, Alabama, a year ago with Resurrection barely pulling out a 21-20 victory in overtime. RCS has to find its way back on offense after losing 20-10 at Perry Central in the opener.
Poplarville 35, Pearl River Central 10: The Hornets’ first win of the season was a strong one, topping Picayune 27-24 before a packed house in Poplarville. PRC is limping in after losing 35-0 at Hancock.
Gulfport 21, Petal 20: The Panthers certainly haven’t forgotten their 15-12 loss at Gulfport from a year ago, but Gulfport’s defense is as stingy as ever. I expect Karlos Dillard and company to slow down a Petal offense that scored 37 in a losing effort to Hattiesburg last week.
Hancock 24, South Jones 21: The Hawks had one of the better outings in week one against Pearl River Central, but the task is a little tougher this week. South Jones, which finished 8-4 a year ago, put it on Sumrall 36-0 last week. Hancock had one of the most balanced efforts in South Mississippi last week, throwing for 177 yards and rushing for 237.
St. Martin 31, Tylertown 28: This should set up as one of the better games on the Coast. The Yellow Jackets won 31-6 over Forest Hill in sloppy conditions last week. We’ll find out more about St. Martin’s quarterback rotation of Jake Galle and Mileon Graham.
Gautier 28, Moss Point 14: Junior running back Micah Kelly appears ready to carry the load for the Gators (1-0) after carrying 16 times for 197 and two touchdowns. Moss Point (0-1) was fine defensively against Pascagoula, but there are some issues to work out on offense.
George County 10, Greene County 7: George County will have to make this a defensive battle with its new flexbone offense struggling early in the season. Of note: Former George County coordinator Michael King returned to Greene County during the offseason to lead the Wildcats program.
Lumberton 21, Bay High 13: Lumberton (1-0) should continue to be one of the best Class 1A programs in the state. Bay High has to get more going on offense after losing 26-12 to West Harrison last week.
Pass Christian 20, Lanier 10: Lanier finished 0-12 a year ago and was thumped 22-0 at Morton last week. Pass Christian appears to have found something special in junior running back Tionne Frost, who ran 20 times for 145 yards and a touchdown in a 27-14 loss to Long Beach.
Vancleave 24, West Harrison 20: Vancleave junior running back C.J. Johnson quietly had a monster game last week in a 46-33 loss at FCAHS. He accounted for 292 all-purpose yards, including a 37-yard touchdown pass, and had 20 tackles on defense.
CCA 28, Prentiss Christian 20: CCA looks to stay perfect after beating Sharkey-Issaquena Academy 22-8 last week.