The regular season ended for the teams in the trio of largest classifications on Thursday night while the state playoffs began for the squads in the four smaller classifications Friday night in prep football action across the state of Mississippi last week.
And in doing so there were significant ramifications across our coverage area when the dust settled after all was said and done.
Here are 7 things in the “Southern Six” we noticed last week:
- Pirate Party — Pass Christian picked up just its second playoff win in the history of the football program Friday night as the home-standing Pirates pounded Richland 48-6 at McDonald Stadium in the opening round of the Class 4A South State playoffs. Ladd Scriber threw five touchdown passes, three of which went to Terry Patton Jr., as Pass Christian routed the Rangers in the first-ever meeting on the gridiron between the two schools. The only other Pirae playoff win came in 2019.
- Hot Hornets — Poplarville advanced to the second round of the Class 4A South state playoffs for the 10th consecutive season under the guidance of 10th-year head coach Jay Beech with a 58-26 beat down of the Bulldogs from Jackson Lanier Friday night at home. Beech has guided the Hornets to at least the third round of the playoffs in all 10 of his seasons at the helm of the Hornets. Pretty impressive…
- Region Rulers — Both Picayune and Ocean Springs finished off unbeaten region schedules with respective home wins on Thursday night for the third consecutive season. The Greyhounds and Maroon Tide have each now collected 19 consecutive league victories after OSHS swamped St. Martin 41-0 and Picayune hammered Hancock 49-21. Both teams have won three consecutive region championships in two different classifications.
- Big Finish (Part 1) — At War Memorial Stadium in Pascagoula the home-standing Panthers faced George County in a battle for the second spot in Region 4-6A and the right to host an opening round Class 6A South State contest this week. In one of two vital games in the “Southern Six” that literally were decided on the final play of the game, the Rebels pulled out a heart-stopping 43-40 win thanks to wideout Marlon Odom who out-leaped a pair of Pascagoula defenders at the goal line to grab a 28-yard touchdown pass with 46.8 seconds remaining as the Rebels snatched the come-from-behind three-point win Thursday night. Pascagoula, which led 20-0 in the first quarter and by 19 points on two other occasions in the loss, watched as a field goal try on the last play of the game missed the mark for a chance to send the game into overtime. The Rebels are back in the playoffs after missing last year, while PHS is back in the postseason for the first time in three years.
- Big Finish (Part 2) — After leading for almost the entire game, home-standing St. Stanislaus suddenly found itself trailing Crystal Springs 20-17 with just seven seconds left to play Friday night at Brother Phillip Memorial Stadium in the opening round of the Class 3A South State playoffs. But, almost inexplicably, the ensuing kickoff was grabbed by SSC standout first-year quarterback Ian Gael Gonzalez Rios at his own 33-yard line and he wound his way through the Bulldog kickoff team en route to a 67-yard game-ending and game-winning kickoff return for a touchdown that handed SSC a thrilling 23-20 win.
- Big Finish (Part 3) — The Vancleave Bulldogs bounced back from a horrid 1-5 start to the season by winning three of their final five games of the season in Region 4-5A play to earn the third seed in the league race and secure a berth in the Class 5A South State playoffs after an exciting 38-35 win Thursday night over Wayne County win in a game that was decided with just over a minute to play when VHS fullback Hunter Harper scored on a two-yard plunge for the winning touchdown.
- Missing out — A trio of teams that are normally gearing up for the playoffs missed the postseason this year. Despite slipping past Stone 21-20 to win the regular season finale between the two teams, both East Central and Stone whom the Hornets beat Thursday night will be sitting at home this season. The postseason absence marks the first time in 10 years that the Hornets will miss the playoffs as well as the first time in nine years that the Tomcats are out of the running. Also, D’Iberville missed the state playoffs for the second straight year under second-year head coach Josh Ladner marking the first time in almost 20 years (2004 & 2003) that the Warriors missed the postseason in back-to-back seasons.