(Gautier senior quarterback Kaden Irving accounted for all seven of the Gators’ scores Friday night. Photo by Bobby McDuffie)
For many teams across the state of Mississippi, as well as the “Southern Six” that we cover, region play began on Friday night. Squads in Class 6A, Class 5A and Class 1A all kicked off the portion of their schedule that will ultimately decide if they will be postseason participants or not this season.
The rest of the state, Class 4A, Class 3A and Class 2A, will begin Region play next Friday. But as we await that, let’s take a look back at what got our attention this week.
Here are 7 things we noticed in the “Southern Six” Friday night:
- Birthday bash — Gautier senior standout signal-caller Kaden Irving celebrated his birthday in fine fashion Friday, as he accounted for all seven Gator touchdowns in a 49-21 thumping of George County. Irving ran for four touchdowns and threw for three more, and added a two-point conversion run just for good measure as Gautier broke a 21-21 halftime tie with 28 unanswered points in the second half to take the Region 4-5A opener from GCHS leaving the Rebels win-less on the season.
- Chop block — Biloxi rolled into D’Iberville and handed the Warriors their fourth straight loss on the season with an exciting 34-27 win to start Region 4-6A action. Indians Running back Damaryion Fillmore tallied a trio of scoring runs in the win, and the third and final one was the game-winning score from 13 yards out with under two minutes to play. Biloxi has won three straight since a season-opening loss to East Central.
- Rolling Along — And about those Hornets from Hurley, East Central remained unbeaten under the direction of first-year head coach Sam Huff smashing visiting West Harrison 47-21 in what was a battle of unbeatens up to that point. East Central quarterback Eli Smith rushed for almost 280 yards and three touchdowns as the Hornets moved to 4-0 overall, in what served as the Region 4-5A opener for both squads.
- Same song — Gulfport’s longtime dominance of St. Martin on the football field continued Friday night as both teams started Region 4-6A action. The Admirals got three different scorings runs from three different players, Gavin Brown (6-yards), Emmanuel Bentley (5-yards) and Jacob Palazzo (10-yards), in pulling out a 21-7 win over the home-standing Yellow Jackets. Gulfport has won every game played on the field between these two since 2011. In fact, SMHS has only beaten the Admirals once on the field in 17 meetings all-time.
- Greyhounds gallop — Ocean Springs remained one of just four unbeaten teams left in the “Southern Six” after five weeks of action, as the visiting Greyhounds stopped Hancock 42-7. Bray Hubbard ran for three touchdowns from his quarterback spot, while tailback Will Smith added a pair of scoring runs as OSHS moved to 4-0 with a win in the Region 4-6A opener for both teams.
- Looking ahead — Picayune, along with OSHS, East Central and Vancleave, comprise the quartet of unbeatens left in our coverage area as the defending Class 5A state champion Maroon Tide moved to 5-0 with a 49-7 thumping of rival Pearl River Central. Standout tailback Dante Dowdell only carried the ball nine times, but he made the carries count running for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Vancleave held off home-standing Long Beach 51-43 as quarterback Hunter Parker threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns. The respective wins came in the Region 4-5A openers for both the Tide and the now 4-0 Bulldogs, and those squads face off in Vancleave next week in an early battles for the top spot in that loop.
- Goula gloom — The two prep football teams in Pascagoula, Pascagoula High and Resurrection, each dropped home games Friday to begin league play. The Panthers fell to upstart Harrison Central 44-31, as Red Rebels quarterback Christian Turner threw for 260 yards and three scores. Lumberton nipped the Eagles 32-30 to open Region 4-1A play in what was the first loss for RCS under the guidance of new head coach Eric Denmark.