Respective region races continued to take shape this week, with space widening between the contenders and pretenders. Those things tend to happen as September gives way to October, and the heat time-outs are a thing of the past.
Here are seven things in the “Southern Six” that we noticed Thursday and Friday night:
- Terrific Tide — Picayune remained unbeaten and won its 18th consecutive game Friday night in a battle of unbeatens in Region 4-5A, as the Maroon Tide out-slugged visiting East Central 28-10. Back-up quarterback Darrell Smith, starting in place of injured starter Brady Roberts, kept the powerful Picayune offense rolling as he ran for over 160 yards and scored two touchdowns as Picayune handed previously unbeaten ECHS its first loss of the season. The 18 straight wins is a new school record in football for Picayune, now 7-0 this season.
- Galloping Greyhounds — Not to be outdone, Ocean Springs registered its 16th consecutive regular-season win by bouncing by Biloxi 48-28 Thursday night in Region 4-6A play. The two teams entered the game each 2-0 in league play, but OSHS senior standout signal-caller Bray Hubbard, an Alabama commit, accounted for five touchdowns overall in the win. Hubbard threw four scoring strikes, including a pair to J.P. Coulter, and also ran for a score as OSHS moved to 6-0 overall but more importantly 3-0 in the region race. Hubbard threw for 215 yards and he ran for just over 120 yards as well, and the win leaves the Greyhounds and Gulfport tied for the top spot. Back-up tailback Will Gray, playing in place of the injured Will Smith, ran for just over 120 yards and two touchdowns as well for OSHS.
- Smooth sailing — And speaking of those Admirals, they sailed into Brett Favre Field in the Kiln and humbled home-standing Hancock 41-6 Thursday night to remain unbeaten in Region 4-6A action. Stalwart tailback Emmanuel Bentley ran for three touchdowns in the win, while quarterback Jacob Palazzo also added a pair of touchdown tosses and he also completed 17 of 21 pass attempts for 246 yards. Gulfport now stands 6-1 with its only loss coming to powerful Picayune.
- Swamp fever — The Gautier Gators suddenly seem to be on a bit of a roll, as head coach Marcus Highs’ squad won its fifth straight game with a 48-19 thumping of visiting West Harrison Friday night. The Gators, as usual, got a big night from super senior quarterback Kaden Irving, as he accounted for four touchdowns in throwing for two and running for a pair in the win while Dillion Alfred returned a kickoff for 75 yards and a touchdown. The Gators stand 5-1 overall and are tied atop the Region 4-5A standings with Picayune, and the win sits up a big game against Vancleave next week.
- Bouncing back — And, speaking of Vancleave, the Bulldogs bounced back from a shellacking at the hands of Picayune last week and moved to 5-1 overall on the season with a 29-22 Region 4-5A win over home-standing George County Friday night. Standout senior tailback John Peterson ran for just over 280 yards and had two long touchdown runs for the Bulldogs, as all of the scoring in the game came in the first half. The loss overshadowed an impressive performance by Rebel sophomore quarterback Deuce Knight, who threw for 255 yards and one touchdown as well as adding a pair of scores on the ground while running for 110 yards in the loss.
- Staying strong — Two strong teams in the “Southern Six”, the aforementioned Gulfport in Class 6A as well as Poplarville in Class 4A, both stand 6-1 on the season with that lone loss at the hands of powerful Picayune. The Hornets opened their season with a tough 21-7 loss, but have since rebounded to win six straight games including a 47-18 thumping of previously unbeaten Lawrence County in Region 7-4A play Friday night. Poplarville got three touchdowns from Benny Jarvis in the big win.
- Still searching — While there are just two teams still unbeaten in our coverage area, there is still a trio of squads in search of their first win of the season. Moss Point fell in thrilling fashion to home-standing Pass Christian 21-20 Friday night in Region 8-4A play, as the Pirates scored the winning touchdown with about two minutes to play. Moss Point is 0-7. The aforementioned George County stands 0-6 after the loss to Vancleave. Also, Pearl River Central snapped a five-game losing streak in a battle of win-less teams Friday night in Carriere as the Blue Devils smacked Long Beach 48-14. The Bearcats are now 0-6 and have dropped 25 consecutive games officially including 22 actually played on the field.