By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
The prep football playoff picture began to take shape here Thursday night, as West Jones beat Jackson Wingfield 38-6.
In Region 4-5A, the home to Picayune and Pearl River Central, the postseason picture is fairly clear, with today's Pascagoula at Pearl River Central games and Gautier at Moss Point games carrying postseason implications.
Defending Class 5A state champion Picayune has already clinched the league title for the second straight season. Picayune is 9-0 overall and 6-0 in region action.
The winner between the Blue Devils and the Panthers, both 8-1 overall and 5-1 in league play, will earn the No. 2 seed in the region behind Picayune and like the Maroon Tide host a first round playoff game next week.
The Pascagoula-PRC loser is the No. 3 seed, and the winner between Gautier (3-3) and Moss Point (3-3) is the No. 4 seed. The loser is out of the playoff picture. Both the three and four seeds will go on the road in the opening round.
“I am not really sure if the home field (in the first round) is really an advantage, because your team eventually has to go on the road in the playoffs." PRC head coach Eric Collins said. "Last year, we went on the road in the first round and ended up advancing to the South State finals.”
• In 5A Region 3, only Wayne County has clinched its playoff fate. The region champion War Eagles (6-0 in the region) will host the Gautier-Moss Point winner a week from today.
With West Jones' win over Wingfield, the Mustangs will either finish second or third depending on the outcome of tonight's McComb-Pearl game.
McComb is 5-2 and Pearl and McComb 4-2 in the region, and Brookhaven (3-3) are all still in the playoff hunt. Brookhaven hosts South Jones (1-5) tonight.
Wins by Brookhaven and McComb would leave West Jones second, McComb third and Brookhaven fourth in the standings with Pearl being left out. A win by Pearl would make the seedings Pearl second, West Jones third and McComb fourth with Brookhaven left out.
Picayune will host the No. 4 seed in the first round.
• The playoffs begin tonight in Class 4A, with Poplarville (4-6) traveling to Quitman (10-1). The winner of that game faces the winner of tonight's Columbia-Magee game next week.
Other first round match-ups involving Region 8-4A teams pits Greene County (7-3) at Laurel (6-4), Northeast Jones (7-4) at Bay (8-1) and Northeast Lauderdale (5-6) at Forrest County (9-1).
• In 6A Region 4, Gulfport (6-0 in region) has clinched first place and the No. 1 playoff seed. Ocean Springs, D'Iberville and Biloxi (all 4-2) have clinched playoff berths, but seeding will be determined by this week's games.
Ocean Springs hosts George County (2-4), while D'Iberville hosts St. Martin (2-4) and Biloxi is at Gulfport. If all win or all lose, D'Iberville is the No. 2 seed (based on wins over Ocean Springs and Biloxi), followed by Ocean Springs (which beat Biloxi) and Biloxi.
Ocean Springs could still be the No. 2 seed and get a first-round playoff home game if the Greyhounds beat George County and St. Martin beats D'Iberville. Biloxi can only finish higher than fourth if the Indians beat the Admirals and Ocean Springs and D'Iberville both lose.
• In 6A Region 3, Petal (6-0 in region) has clinched first place and the No. 1 playoff seed. Brandon and Hattiesburg (both 4-2) are also in, with Oak Grove, Natchez and Meridian (all 3-3) still fighting for the last spot.
Brandon is at Hattiesburg Friday, with the winner claiming the No. 2 spot and a first-round playoff home game and the loser finishing either No. 3 or No. 4. Meridian can clinch the No. 3 seed with a win over Forest Hill (1-5) on Friday, which would make the Brandon-Hattiesburg loser No. 4.
Should Meridian lose, the Wildcats would be eliminated and the winner of Friday's Oak Grove at Natchez game would be No. 4 behind Petal, the Brandon-Hattiesburg winner and the Brandon-Hattiesburg loser. Oak Grove and Natchez both beat Meridian, but lost to Brandon, Hattiesburg and Petal.