Check out pre­dic­tions for high school play­offs

The Sun Herald - - Front Page - BY PA­TRICK MAGEE pmagee@sun­her­ald.com

Gulf­port fans had rea­son to be con­cerned last week when se­nior quar­ter­back T.Q. New­some sat out the sec­ond half of Fri­day’s 34-20 win over Biloxi with a sprained an­kle, but fear not.

The South­ern Miss com­mit will be ready to go when the Ad­mi­rals play host to Pe­tal in the first round of the Class 6A South State play­offs, ac­cord­ing to head coach John Archie.

“He’s do­ing good. He’s fine,” Archie said Tues­day.

Gulf­port (10-1) faces the dif­fi­cult task of beat­ing a team twice in the same sea­son after tak­ing down Pe­tal 33-28 at Mil­ner Sta­dium on Aug. 24.

The Pan­thers got off to a 1-6 start to the sea­son be­fore win­ning their fi­nal four con­tests to clinch the No. 4 seed in Re­gion 3-6A.

New­some had his ar­guably best per­for­mance of the sea­son against Pe­tal, com­plet­ing 16 of 25 passes for 353 yards and three touch­downs while run­ning 15 times for 103 yards and a touch­down.

Whether New­some will be lim­ited at all by a sore an­kle re­mains to be seen. But Gulf­port has proven that it’s more than a one-player of­fense. Se­nior Tionne Frost and ju­nior Tyran Gable give Gulf­port good op­tions at run­ning back. Frost has 137 car­ries for 896 yards and 14 touch­downs.

At re­ceiver, Gulf­port has three play­ers with 362 yards or more. Ju­nior Deshun Shields has 37 catches for 574 yards and seven touch­downs de­spite miss­ing a cou­ple of early games and ju­nior Tom­mie John­son has 34 catches for 594 yards and six scores.

Pe­tal is far from an of­fen­sive jug­ger­naut, but it has played strong de­fense down the stretch with just 20 points al­lowed over the last three games.

That be­ing said, Pe­tal had a soft stretch in the sched­ule over the fi­nal four weeks.

The win­ner will face the vic­tor of Har­ri­son Cen­tral-Oak Grove in the next round.

My pre­dic­tion: Gulf­port 28, Pe­tal 21.

Here’s how I see the rest of Fri­day night’s play­off games go­ing down:

Bran­don 38, St. Martin 20: Bran­don sits at 11-1, but it hasn’t had that many blowout wins this sea­son. The Bull­dogs fea­ture one of the most bal­anced of­fenses in the state. Ju­nior quar­ter­back Will Rogers has com­pleted 62 per­cent of his passes for 2,292 yards, 20 touch­downs and nine in­ter­cep­tions. Se­nior run­ning back Dal­las Smith has 265 car­ries for 1,450 yards and 10 scores. Se­nior re­ceiver Jonathan Mingo, an Ole Miss com­mit, is one of the best play­ers in the state with 62 catches for 1,124 yards and 13 touch­downs. St. Martin (7-4) needs an­other de­ter­mined ef­fort from se­nior run­ning back Ham McGee, who had 19 car­ries for a sea­son-high 194 yards and two touch­downs against D’Iberville. This game matches up with Pearl-Ocean Springs.

Oak Grove 28, Har­ri­son Cen­tral 24: Oak Grove (9-2) fea­tures a gifted dual-threat quar­ter­back in Georgia com­mit John Rhys-Plum­lee. He has put to­gether a sea­son sim­i­lar to that of Gulf­port’s New­some, throw­ing for 2,036 yards and 24 touch­downs while run­ning 100 times for 922 yards and 12 scores. Har­ri­son Cen­tral coach Casey Cain spent 14 years on the staff at Oak Grove be­fore land­ing in Lyman in 2015 and the Red Rebels (8-3) have a gen­uine shot on the road.

Pearl 24, Ocean Springs 20: This seems like an evenly matched game with both teams stand­ing at 7-4. Pearl is a very young team, but head coach John Perry ob­vi­ously knows what it takes to win in the post­sea­son after lead­ing the Pi­rates to the Class 6A state ti­tle a year ago. Pearl is very young on of­fense, but speedy on de­fense.

Picayune 38, Natchez 17:

The Ma­roon Tide (8-3) shouldn’t have much of a prob­lem han­dling the Bull­dogs, but Natchez (7-4) does have a solid quar­ter­back in se­nior Paul Har­grave, who has thrown for 1,954 yards, 20 touch­downs and six in­ter­cep­tions. Picayune turns out a run­ning back with huge num­bers every year and it seems that se­nior Jortin Raine is get­ting bet­ter by the week. He has 2,273 yards rush­ing and 14 touch­downs. The win­ner of Wayne County-Lau­rel awaits.

Stone High 27, West Jones

20: Stone High trav­eled to West Jones a year ago and won 24-14. The Tom­cats are the most dan­ger­ous 4-6 team in the state with an of­fense led by se­nior quar­ter­back Trey Ar­ring­ton. He didn’t play his first game un­til Sept. 21 and he has cleared 100 yards rush­ing in his seven games this sea­son. West Jones (9-2) lost 10-6 in the sea­son opener to Wayne County. Stone High won 34-21 at Wayne County on Oct. 19. This game matches up with BrookhavenHat­ties­burg, which means the un­de­feated Tigers should await the win­ner.

East Cen­tral 28, Greene County 13: Greene County (9-3) should present the tough­est chal­lenge that East Cen­tral (10-0) has faced since win­ning 35-27 at Jef­fer­son Davis County on Sept. 7. Greene County ju­nior quar­ter­back Ja­cob Mitchell has com­pleted 69.4 per­cent­age of his passes for 2,362 yards, 22 touch­downs and five in­ter­cep­tions. He has five receivers who have at least 29 catches this sea­son with ju­nior Drake Hen­der­son lead­ing the way with 48 re­cep­tions for 679 yards and five scores. East Cen­tral coach Seth Smith was en­cour­aged by the play of his of­fense last week in a 56-20 win over Quit­man, but he knows that it’s his de­fense that should set the tone through­out the post­sea­son. The win­ner plays the vic­tor of West Lauderdale-Florence.

Po­plarville 42, North­east Lauderdale 17: The Hor­nets (10-1) have scored at least 48 points in six games this sea­son and the of­fense only seems to be im­prov­ing as the sea­son rolls along. There is no sin­gle go-to star on of­fense and that’s what makes Po­plarville so dan­ger­ous. The win­ner of this game matches up with who­ever comes out of the South Pike-Men­den­hall con­test. With East Cen­tral and Po­plarville again on op­po­site sides of the bracket, Hor­net Bowl II seems likely.

Nanih Waiya 31, Res­ur­rec­tion 10: RCS (6-4) has strug­gled against strong com­pe­ti­tion the last cou­ple of games, los­ing by a com­bined score of 80-13 to Lum­ber­ton and East Mar­ion. The Ea­gles face their tough­est op­po­nent yet in Nanih Waiya, which is 11-1.

Pa­trick Magee: 228-896-2333, @CoastCover­age.

AMANDA MCCOY am­c­coy@sun­her­ald.com

Gulf­port’s Tom­mie John­son runs into the end zone after re­ceiv­ing the ball from quar­ter­back TQ New­some dur­ing the Port City Bowl on Aug. 17 at Har­ri­son Cen­tral High in Gulf­port.

JOHN FITZHUGH jc­fitzhugh@sun­her­ald.com

St. Martin run­ning back Ham Magee cel­e­brates a touch­down against Ocean Springs dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter of their game at Joe Bar­low sta­dium St. Martin on Oct. 20.

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