And then there were three.
A trio of prep football squads in the “Southern Six” awoke Monday morning having to head to school while most of the classmates and fellow students were on holiday vacation. But practicing the week of Thanksgiving is a goal for every player, coach and fan of every team across the state of Mississippi each and every season because that means that your favorite squad is in action in Black Friday in South State championship game play.
Here are 7 games in the “Southern 6” to keep an eye on this week:
- Picayune at West Jones — A much anticipated own between the back-to-bac and defending state champion Maroon Tide and the undefeated to-date Mustangs takes place the day after Thanksgiving in Soso with the Class 6A South State championship belt on the line. It marks the fifth time in the past six seasons that these teams have met in the state playoffs, and the series is 2-2 over that span. West Jones is a perfect 12-0, and has scored 35 or more points in eight of those 12 wins while allowing an average of just over five points per game defensively including just less than three points per game in the 10-game regular season slate. Meanwhile, Picayune is averaging 37 points per game, so something’s gotta give in this one.
- Gautier at Laurel — These teams had met just once all time previously and that was 23 years ago until three weeks ago, and now the Gators and Golden Tornadoes will face off for the second time in less than a. month and for the third time ever. But more is on the line this time than ever before, as the winner of this one wins the Class 5A South State championship and a berth in next week’s Class 5A state championship game. Gautier has never played in the state championship, while Laurel has won three state crowns and played for three others. Gautier’s first trip ever “Between the Bricks” to Watkins Stadium in Laurel was that journey three weeks ago when Laurel captured the Region 4-5A title with a 48-30 win.
- Poplarville at Columbia — The second Pearl River County squad in the “Southern Six” to face a current unbeaten team is the Hornets, which travel to Columbia in the Class 4A South State championship game on Black Friday. Poplarville is 10-3, and is in its seventh South State championship game in the past eight seasons after missing out last year. This is the 14th meeting all-time in a series that dates back to 1954, but just the third ever in the postseason and the Hornets have won the previous two. The Wildcats sit a perfect 12-0 on the season and are looking to get back to the Class 4A state championship game for the first time in two years after they won the state title in 2021. Poplarville has never won a state title in four attempts, while CHS has won both times it has appeared in the state championship contest.
- Oak Grove at Brandon — These two teams meet for the Class 7A South State championship Friday night.
- Grenada at South Panola — These two teams meet for the Class 6A North State championship Friday night with the winner advancing to play the survivor of the Picayune-West Jones game for the Class 6A State championship next week.
- West Point at Clarksdale — These two teams meet for the Class 5A North State championship Friday night with the winner advancing to play the survivor of the Gautier-Laurel game for the Class 6A State championship next week.
- Houston at Louisville — These two teams meet for the Class 4A North State championship Friday night with the winner advancing to play the survivor of the Poplarville-Columbia game for the Class 6A State championship next week.