By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
It’s that time of year once again.
Prep football practice starts on Monday for teams all across the state of Mississippi, including the three here in Pearl River County. Picayune, Pearl River Central and Poplarville all kick off pre-season training sessions in preparation for the upcoming season which begins in less than three weeks.
For only the second time in history, all three teams in Pearl River County made the state playoffs last season.
Poplarville will be the first local team to kick off the new campaign, when the Hornets hit the road to face Raliegh on Friday, Aug. 23. The next day, Pearl River Central faces the host Gulfport team in the second game of the Shrimp Bowl Classic doubleheader at Milner Stadium. Bay High and Biloxi begin the event at 5 p.m., on Saturday, August 24th, followed by the Blue Devils and Admirals at 8 p.m.
Picayune will be the last of the local teams to begin the season when the Maroon Tide travels to Petal on Friday, Aug. 30th. That game was originally scheduled for Saturday, Aug 31st, but moved up a day so not to interfere with Southern Mississippi’s game on the same night.
After opening their respective seasons the week before, Poplarville will then host Pearl River Central on the same night that Picayune travels to Petal in the renewal of that longstanding county rivalry.
Poplarville competes in a revamped Region 8-4A, which now consists of the Hornets, Moss Point, Pass Christian, Bay High, St. Stanislaus and Vancleave. Forrest County and Greene County, both powers in the league over the past few years, have moved into Region 5-4A.
Pearl River Central will see the biggest change in surroundings after being moved into Region 3-5A. The Blue Devils will now compete with Wayne County, West Jones, Brookhaven, Natchez, South Jones, Jackson Wingfield and Laurel in the new configuration.
Picayune remains in Region 4-5A, along with newcomers George County and Stone County as well as holdovers Long Beach, Pascagoula, East Central, West Harrison and Gautier.
Pearl River Central has played in the past two Class 5A South State championship games, while Picayune has won the past two Region 4-5A titles. Poplarville is looking for its first league crown in a decade.
Picayune and Pearl River Central will still play each other despite not being in the same league this season. The Blue Devils will host the Maroon Tide on Friday, Sept. 13th.