It seems like just yesterday when the current season kicked off, but this is now week 10 of the 2023 campaign. Hard to believe isn’t it…???
And as the season gets older, the games get bigger. Believe it or not, there are just two Friday nights (one for some teams and none for a few teams) left in regular season action for prep football across the “Southern Six”. Several key region showdowns are on tap this week.
With the number of games dwindling, that means that for most teams the remaining games take on even more importance as the race for the state playoffs elevates. We have games in our coverage area on both Thursday and Friday for the next two weeks to close out regular season play for the larger schools and kick off the playoffs for the smaller squads.
Here are 7 (or 8) games in the “Southern 6” to keep an eye on this week:
- Ocean Springs at Gulfport — The battle for the top spot in Region 4-7A features the Greyhounds heading to historic Milner Stadium to take on the home-standing Admirals. Each team sits a perfect 3-0 in the region race, and this game will more than likely serve as the defacto title tilt for postseason purposes. These two teams didn’t meet in the regular season until 1993, so this marks the 30th anniversary of what now has become an annual affair for the past three decades. Gulfport leads the all-time series 21-10, but OSHS has won three in a row heading into this one.
- Picayune at George County — The same scenario exists in Region 4-6A in Lucedale this week as powerful Picayune travels to Gill-Martin Stadium on the campus of the Rebels in a battle for supremacy in that league Friday night. Both teams are 6-2 overall and both sit 3-0 in the region race. The teams have met 17 times total all-time, and George County hasn’t beaten Picayune in 21 years while the Maroon Tide has won four straight games in the past decade since the rivalry was renewed in 2013 after a 12 year hiatus. Both squads have clinched Class 6A playoff berths, it’s just a matter of seeding that’s left to decide.
- Lumberton at Resurrection (Thursday night) — Resurrection sits alone atop the Region 8-1A standings at 4-0 after a big road win over Sacred Heart last week, but the stakes are just as high this week for the Eagles as they host Lumberton who stands at 3-1 and tied with SHHS in second place. There are a multitude of tie-breakers involved if RCS loses by 10 or more points, but the easiest way to describe the scenario is that if the Eagles win or lose by nine points or less then they secure the region title as well as a first-round home game in the upcoming Class 1A South State playoffs.
- St. Stanislaus at West Marion (Thursday night) — In Region 8-3A again the same scenario presents itslef as in Region 4-7A and in Region4-6A as St. Stanislaus and West Marion square off this week for the top spot in the league race after each moved to 3-0 in the loop with wins last week. The Rocks are in the midst of an impressive season in head coach Tim Lala’s frst year at the helm as they stand an 7-1 overall. Both teams have secured both playoff berths as well as opening round home games to kickoff the Class 3A South State playoffs which begin next week. This game will decide the region champ, however.
- Stone at Gautier — The Gators remained unbeaten in region 4-5A with a 34-7 win over East Central last week to move to 3-0 in the loop that also secured Gautier a berth in the upcoming Class 5A South State playoffs. A win over the visiting Tomcats Friday night would secure home-field advantage in the opening round of the playoffs for Gautier and set up a clash of titans next week to close out regular season play at Laurel in a battle for the region crown.
- East Central at Vancleave — A pair of longtime Jackson County rivals each in desperate need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive face off Friday night in Region 4-5A play. This marks the 65th anniversary of the first-ever meeting on the gridiron between the Bulldogs and Hornets, and the series is extremely close with VHS holding a tight 32-30 advantage all-time. However, the Hornets have won seven straight contests in this annual affair and would need yet another to keep their hopes of making the postseason alive. This is the longest-running rivalry for both of these schools. Vancleave senior tailback Derik Forehand picked up almost 150 yards on the ground in a loss to Laurel last week.
- Harrison Central at Biloxi — The same situation exists in Biloxi as does in Vancleave, as both the home-standing Indians and visiting Red Rebels need at least a win or perhaps two in the final two weeks of the regular season to bolster their playoff hopes. Harrison Central sits in the third spot in the Region 4-7A race just behind Gulfport and Ocean Springs, and a win this week secures a berth in the upcoming Class 7A South State playoffs. A loss by Biloxi would deeply damage its playoff hopes.
- (Bonus) Poplarville at Greene County (Thursday) — A bonus eight game this week features the Hornets heading to Leakesvill to face off with home-standing Greene County in Region 8-4A action. The outcome of this one has huge implications for over half of the teams in the league, as a Poplarville win leaves the Wildcats out of the playoffs and puts Moss Point and Bay High in, while an upset by GCHS over region champ PHS would put the Wildcats in as the third seed and BHS as the fourth seed. Pass Christian has clinched the second seed behind Poplarville.