As we enter the first round of the state playoffs in the three largest classifications of prep football and the second round for the four smaller classifications, 14 squads from the “Southern Six” are still alive in a chase for various state championships in six different classifications.
Eight of those teams in our coverage area get the so-called home-field advantage this week, while the other six will hit the road as all eye another week of practice in November.
Here are 7 games in the “Southern 6” to keep an eye on this week:
- Pascagoula at Hattiesburg — This will mark the first meeting of these two long-time rivals in three seasons, when the Panthers and Tigers faced off twice in the 2020 Covid Campaign with PHS taking both games including 35-32 in the second round of the state playoffs. Hattiesburg finished second in Region 3-6A behind West Jones after falling to those Mustangs 30-7 last week, and PHS dropped a three-point decision to George County and fell to the third seed in Region 4-6A. That first of the past six meetings between these two teams in 2015 marked the renewal of the series after a 15-year absence.
- Meridian at Ocean Springs — The Greyhounds take on the once perennial state power Wildcats for just the fourth time in history Friday night at home, and all three of those past meetings came in the state playoffs just as this one does. Ocean Springs has never beaten Meridian. The last game came in 2010, and the Wildcats also won playoff games between the two teams in 2006 and 2007 also. Ocean Springs won the Region 4-7A crown, and Meridian finished fourth in Region 3-7A resulting in this match-up to open the first-ever version of the Class 7A South State playoffs. It marks the third straight season OSHS has opened the playoffs at home.
- Pearl at Gulfport — The other Class 7A South State opening round playoff games on the Mississippi Gulf Coast this week takes place at historic Milner Stadium as the Admirals host the Pirates. Just is this the third-ever meeting between these two schools in football, and first in the postseason, but is the second in three seasons after GHS nipped PHS 13-12 early in the 2021 season. The other meeting was also a Gulfport win, in 1994. The Admirals are the second seed behind OSHS in Region 4-7A, while the Pirates finished a slot ahead of Meridian as the third seed from Region 3-7A. Gulfport is 1-12 in its last 13 playoff games.
- Biloxi at Oak Grove — This marks just the fourth overall meeting between the Indians and Warriors, with OGHS having won all three, but it also marks the third time in the past four seasons that the teams have met in Oak Grove to open the state playoffs against one another. Oak Grove finished second behind Brandon in Region 3-7A, while the Indians finished as the third seed in Region 4-7A.
- Natchez at Gautier — The Gators host the Bulldogs in the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the football field as the Class 6A South State playoffs kick off Friday night. Gautier finished second in Region 4-5A behind Laurel after falling on the road “Between the Bricks” to the Golden Tornadoes last week. Natchez is the third seed from Region 3-5A.
- West Talahatchie at Resurrection — This marks the second meeting between the Eagles and the Choctaws from Webb, Miss. in the opening round of the Class 1A South State playoffs in the past four years. Resurrection won the previous game 54-20. Resurrection, the one seed in region 8-1A, is coming off of a hard-fought 21-7 playoff-opening win over French Camp Academy last week while WTHS advanced to the second round with an impressive 42-0 win over Leake County. The Choctaws are the second seed in Region 6-1A, after falling to league champion Hollandale Simmons.
- Noxubee County at St. Stanislaus — Just the third-ever meeting between these two teams in football as an old nemesis of the Rock-A-Chaws comes calling in the second round of the Class 3A South State playoffs. The two previous meetings between these teams came in the Class 4A state championship games in both 2014 and 2015, when the Tigers from Macon, Miss. collected their 12th and 13th state championships. They now own 15 overall state titles. St. Stanislaus, the top-seed in region 8-3A, is coming of an exciting 23-20 win in the opening round of the Class 3A South State playoffs last week, while NCHS advanced after beating South Pike 35-6. The Tigers finished as the second seed behind Kemper County in Region 6-3A, losing only to top-seed Kemper County 48-46 in league play.