Several teams picked up some much-needed, and I do mean much-needed, wins in prep football action across the “Southern 6” in South Mississippi Friday night. And also, a few teams suffered some losses that hurt a bit more than others did as we close in on the end of the regular season.
Here are 7 things we noticed in the “Southern 6” Friday night:
- Are you serious? — Gautier quarterback Kaden Irving has had a stellar season in many respects, but Friday’s performance against rival Vancleave on the road in Region 4-5 action was nothing short of astronomical. Irving, an Ole Miss baseball commit, accounted for all eight Gator touchdowns as Gautier thumped Vancleave 55-28 and remained tied atop the league standings with Picayune with a 3-0 mark. Irving, who leads the state in Passing yards, threw for six scores and ran for two more touchdowns in one of the more outstanding performances ever seen in quite some years on the gridiron in Jackson County. Irving hooked up with senior wide receiver A.J. Phillips on half of those scoring strikes, and Kelvin Beavers collected a pair as well. In the process, Irving accounted for 455 yards of total offense (344 passing and 111 rushing) and Phillips hauled in six passes for 129 yards. Vancleave got 175 yards rushing and three touchdowns from John Peterson, but the win by the Gators sets up a huge region contest with East Central next week. Grey Bradley ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns as the Hornets’ whacked visiting Long Beach 57-14 to stay in striking distance of the league lead at 3-1.
- Whew, finally — Moss Point was off to its first 0-7 start in nine years, and going into Friday’s game with visiting Greene County on Dantzler Street in Region 8-4A play the Tigers only had two games left to avoid an historic losing season. But all that changed in the second half, as MPHS overcame a 28-21 halftime deficit with a 35-point second-half onslaught and pulled out a 56-35 win over the Wildcats. The win vaulted the Tigers into prime position to snatch one of the four playoff spots in the five-team region, as Moss Point closes out the regular season earlier than almost every other team in the state with a date against Bay High on the road next week.
- Whew, finally (Part 2) — George County was off to an 0-6 start for the first time in a decade, since starting the 2012 season at 0-8. But, just like in Moss Point, all of that changed as well in Lucedale Friday night as the Rebels smacked Pearl River Central 35-0. Sophomore quarterback Deuce Knight threw for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and he added a score on the ground as well. The win kept alive some slight playoff hopes for GCHS in Region 4-5A action, as they stand 1-3 with three games left.
- Eager Eagles — Although Home-standing Resurrection entered Friday’s Region 4-1A game against Richton with four wins overall already on the season, the biggest win for the Eagles was the latest by far as RCS took a big step towards qualifying for the state playoffs with a timely 38-26 win. Resurrection quarterback Max Askew threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score, and the win vaulted the Eagles firmly into fourth place in the league standings and remaining in that spot over the next three weeks would ensure the Eagles a postseason berth in its first year under head coach Eric Denmark.
- Region race — Both Ocean Springs and Gulfport posted impressive home wins to stay knotted atop Region 4-6A, as the Greyhounds popped Pascagoula 37-0 and the Admirals overcame a scrappy Harrison Central squad 29-19. Those results leave both teams at 4-0 in league play with three games left, including a head-to-head meeting in Ocean Springs in two weeks. The Greyhounds extended their school record regular season winning streak to 17 games and moved to 7-0 overall, while GHS moved to 7-1 overall with its only loss of the season coming at the hands of powerful Picayune a month ago. Bray Hubbard accounted for four touchdowns for OSHS, and he also accounted for over 320 yards of total offense throwing for 215 yards and running for 107. Emmanuel Bentley ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns for Gulfport.
- Region race (Part 2) — In other Region 4-6A action, Biloxi remained in the thick of things concerning a playoff berth with a solid home win as well, blowing past St. Martin 42-22. Hancock was the only team in that league to win on the road, as the Hawks stunned home-standing D”Iberville 31-24 when Zack Gullang scored the winning points on a 1-yard plunge with less than a minute to play. Gullung ran for 126 yards and a trio of touchdowns, and the win keeps alive what seemed to be fleeting playoff hopes for the Hawks which now seem slightly more possible as they stand 2-2 in league play.
- Still Perfect — Picayune and Ocean Springs remained the only unbeaten teams in our coverage area, both with region wins. Picayune, the defending Class 5A state champions, hammered West Harrison 55-0 at home in Lee-Triplett Stadium. And they did it without standout tailback Dante Dowdell, who sat the game out. But, Chris Davis ran for three touchdowns offensively and picked off a pair of passes on defense and Amarion Tyson recorded 12 tackles as the Maroon Tide moved to 8-0 on the season and in the process extended their school record to 19 straight wins as well as wins in 22 out of its last 23 games. Picayune now stands 26-3 in three seasons under the guidance of head coach Cody Stogner, a former Maroon Tide standout player himself.