And suddenly, there were six.
A week ago, as the state playoffs completely got underway across the state of Mississippi, 14 teams from the “Southern Six” were still in contention in the race to the state championship round in Oxford the first weekend in December.
But today, after the dust (and in some cases mud) settled Friday night, alas we have just a half-dozen local squads left standing.
Here are 7 things in the “Southern 6” we noticed Friday night:
- Down and out — For the fourth time in the past six seasons, the football season for Ocean Springs ended in the opening round of the state playoffs. But the latest loss was by far the toughest to take. Visiting Meridian marched into the Greyhound Stadium and walked away with a 35-23 upset of Ocean Springs Friday night in the first round of the Class 7A South State playoffs. The win by the Wildcats moves Meridian to 4-0 all-time against the Greyhounds on the gridiron, with all four decisions coming in the state playoffs. The loss snapped a nine-game win streak for OSHS, as the Greyhounds came into the game as the number one seed in Region 4-7A while the Wildcats barely squeezed into the state playoffs as the fourth and final seed in Region 3-7A with an overall losing record.
- Down and even further out — Gulfport fumbled on four consecutive second-half possessions and watched their Class 7A playoff aspirations slip away with a 17-13 loss to Pearl Friday at Milner Stadium. The Admirals saw their season come to an end in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
- Pascagoula Power — Both high schools in Pascagoula picked up big playoff wins on the same night Friday, one at home and the other on the road. Pascagoula High traveled to Hattiesburg and knocked off Hattiesburg 7-6 in the opening round of the Class 6A South State playoffs 7-6, while Resurrection advanced to the third round of the Class 1A South State playoffs with a 33-16 over visiting West Tallahatchie at War Memorial Stadium at the same time.
- Nice, neighbor — Neigboring Gautier, which like Pascagoula is a member of the Pascagoula-Gautier School District, also found success Friday night as the Gators crushed Natchez in the first round of the Class 5A South State football playoffs 50-18 Friday night at home in Vaughan-Wallace Stadium. It marks the second consecutive season that Gautier will play in the second round of the postseason for the first time in 23 years, since the 1999-2000 seasons.
- Rammed Rebels — George County started the season out at home with a resounding win without standout quarterback Deuce Knight, but the Rebels ended the season with a thud also at home with Knight back in the line-up. Terry’s R.J. Hall accounted for six touchdowns Friday night as the Bulldogs kicked George County out of the Class 6A South State playoffs 31-29 at Gill-Martin Stadium. The senior wide receiver/defensive back had touchdown receptions of 56 and 8 yards as well as a 1-yard run but it was on special teams and defense that he had his greatest impact. He had a kickoff return of 84 yards in the first half to give the Bulldogs a 14-10 lead and a pick 6 of 34 yards in the 3rd quarter that gave Terry a 35-17 lead in the 3rd quarter. The Rebels closed to 35-32 with 3:54 remaining in the game when Hall sealed the deal with a 99-yard kickoff return to give the Bulldogs a 41-32 lead and end the season for Knight and his teammates.
- Rocks rocked — An old nemesis continued to flummox St. Stanislaus in the state playoffs, as visiting Noxubee County scored 28 unanswered second-half points to put away the Rock-a-chaws 49-14 in the second round of the 3A state playoffs. It marked the third victory for the Tigers in three meetings all-time against SSC, with the prior two coming in the Class 4A state championship game in back-to-back seasons of 2014 and 2015.
- Pirate Power — Pass Christian advanced to the third round of the state football playoffs for the first time in school history Friday night with a 27-7 win road win over the Panthers in the second round of the Class 4A South State playoffs. Terry Patton and Jacquez Alexander Dedeaux each scored two touchdowns apiece for the Pirates, and Pass Christian never trailed in the contest after taking a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. It marked just the third-ever playoff win in history for PCHS on the football field. The Pirates had only been in the second round one time, back in 2019 after registering their first-ever playoff win.