And it all comes down to this…
The 2022 Mississippi prep football state championship games are set for this weekend. All 12 teams involved were represented at a press conference at the Mississippi High School Activities Association offices in Clinton Monday morning.
All six games will be played at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi starting Friday at 11 a.m. There will be three games played on Friday and three more on Saturday.
This year’s title tilts feature just one team from the “Southern Six”.
There is also plenty of prep basketball taking place throughout the week.
Here are 7 things to watch in the “Southern Six” this week:
- Picayune vs. West Point (Class 5A state championship) — The Maroon Tide and Green Wave had never met on the football field in the long and storied history of each program until three years ago. Now, Picayune and West Point will meet for the third time in the last four seasons with the Class 5A state championship trophy at stake. The teams split the past two meetings. Picayune has won a school-record 25 straight games, including knocking off the Green Wave in last year’s title tilt 40-21. Picayune, which stands 14-0, has never finished a season 15-0 and the Maroon Tide have never won back-to-back state crowns. West Point can take over the state title lead with 12 state titles. The Green Wave are playing in their seventh consecutive Class 5A championship game, which is the second-longest streak in the MHSAA’s playoff era that began in 1981. Only South Panola, which reached nine straight Class 6A championship games from 2002-10, has had a longer streak in any classification.
- Brandon vs. Starkville (Class 6A state championship) — Many observers (including myself) hoped to see this match-up begin with the words “Ocean Springs” when the match-up for the title game in the top classification in the state would be announced. But alas, no. The best season in Greyhound football history ended with a sudden silence that echoed all across highway 90 just after 9 p.m., Friday when Brandon’s Will Elliot booted a 29-yard field goal on the last play of the game to give the Bulldogs a thrilling 34-31 win on the last play of the game in the Class 6A South State championship contest. Oceans Springs finished the season with a 12-1 mark, the most wins in school history. Brandon and Starkville have met just one time previously on the gridiron, a 27-21 win for the Bulldogs to open the 2019 season. Brandon has never won a state championship in football, but is back in the title game for the second straight season after falling to Madison Central last year. Starkville has six state championships on the gridiron, with the last in Class 6A coming in 2015 with a 27-7 win over Petal.
- Mendenhall vs. Louisville (Class 4A State championship game) — There were several “Southern Six” squads in Class 4A that had their sights set on a shot at the state championship as the state playoffs started, including both Poplarville and Stone among others. But mighty Mendenhall erased all of those hopes in consecutive weeks. The Tigers have knocked off defending Class 4A state champ Columbia, Poplarville and Stone in consecutive weeks in the postseason. Mendenhall has won three state football championships, but all came in a six-year span in the 1980’s. Louisville is 10-0 all-time in state championship games and can get its 11th with a win Saturday morning. This is the fifth all-time meeting between the teams, but the first in 28 years since 1994.
- Time and Place — Here is the complete MHSAA Football State Championship Schedule for Friday and Saturday.
All games At Southern Miss’ M.M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg
11 a.m. — Noxubee County (10-4) vs. Raleigh (13-1).
3 p.m. — McEvans (13-1) vs. Bay Springs (13-1).
7 p.m. — West Point (11-2) vs. Picayune (14-0).
11 a.m. — Louisville (13-1) vs. Mendenhall (13-1).
3 p.m. — Charleston (11-3) vs. Scott Central (12-2).
7 p.m. — Starkville (11-3) vs. Brandon (12-1).
5 — MS/LA Challenge — Hancock hosts Moss Point in basketball action Tuesday night. After facing off Tuesday in the Kiln, both the Hawks and Tigers will play in the Mississippi/Louisiana Challenge at Harrison Central High School in Lyman on Saturday. Play starts at 9:00 a.m., Saturday morning with eight games on tap, seven boys’ contests and one girls’ affair. Pass Christian and Sarah Reed of New Orleans tip things off, followed by Lutcher and Brookhaven at 10:30. Moss Point meets Helen Cox of New Orleans at Noon, and then Hancock faces Bogalusa at 1:30. Zachary meets Madison-Ridgeland Academy at 3, followed by the Gulfport-St. Thomas Aquinas of Hammond at 4:30. The Harrison Central girls then face Ponchatoula 6 p.m., in an intriguing match-up as the Lady Rebels finished as the Class 6A state runner-up last season while the Lady Greenies won the state championship in their classification. The host Red Rebels close out play around 7:30 facing East Jefferson of New Orleans.
6 SMHS Hoopsfest — Quite a few girls’ basketball teams in the “Southern Six” will be at St. Martin High School on Saturday to participate in the SMHS Hoopsfest. D’Iberville and Theodore tip things off at 10:30 a.m., followed by Long Beach vs. Archbishop Hannan at Noon. Ocean Springs meets Hahnville, La., at 1:30 p.m., followed by Gulfport vs. Edna Karr of New Orleans at 3 p.m. Quitman faces Foley (Ala.) at 4:30, followed by the host SMHS Lady Yellow Jackets vs. East Iberville (La.) at 6 p.m. Pascagoula wraps things up meeting Jackson Callaway at 7:30. The Pascagoula girls are coming off a trio of losses during the Thanksgiving break, as they dropped a 54-25 decision to Fort Walton Beach (Fla.) in Orange Beach, Ala., as well as losing two games in the UMS-Wright Tourney in Mobile where the Lady Panthers lost to the host team 61-42 as well as to Daphne (Ala.) 56-47.
7 Highly-ranked — A trio of boys hoops teams on the coast are all ranked highly in various state-wide basketball polls. Gulfport is ranked second in the Mississippi Hoop Report Power 15 rankings and stands at 7-1 on the season, while Pascagoula is 6-1 with the only loss for the Panthers coming to the Admirals. Biloxi is 5-1 and ranked seventh. The Indians face D’Iberville Tuesday night, while Gulfport travels to Madison-Ridgeland Academy for a rematch from last week with the Patriots. Pascagoula has been off for two weeks but gets back on the court Friday on the road at Hattiesburg.