Big battle of the Titans

Published 3:48 pm Thursday, September 14, 2006

They come no bigger than this.

Top ranked Pearl River and third ranked Gulf Coast meet tonight at Dobbie Holden Satdium for the first time this year, and it may not be the last time.

That’s top ranked and third ranked in the nation, by the way.

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As if this arch-rivalry needed any more reason for the teams to battle it out, like last year’s Perk win over the Wildcats in the regular season or PRCC’s win in the state title game after which they stayed home and Gulf Coast went to a bowl game, this season the teams are ranked almost next to one another in the national juco rankings.

Kick off is set for 7 p.m., in Poplarville.

“It’s going to be a heckuva game,” fifth-year PRCC head coach Tim Hatten said. “I’m 99.9 percent sure it’s the first Pearl River-Perk game where both teams are ranked as high as we are right now. We’re very similar to them…they’re a lot like us offensively.”

Pearl River and Gulf Coast are first and second, respectively, in total offense in the state with the Wildcats generating an average of 478.5 yards a game to the Bulldogs’ 435. PRCC tops the league in passing yards (250.5 a game) and Perk tops the rushing list (292.5 a game). The Bulldogs are 10th in passing (142.5 a game), while the Wildcats are second in rushing (228 a game).

 Hatten noted that the Bulldogs have an excellent ground game, led by sophomore Larry Warner who is averaging 141.5 yards a game — second-highest in the league — while the Wildcats boast the likes of the state’s third-best runner in Seth Hayden of Pearl River Central who is averaging 134.5 yards a game and has scored a league best five TDs.

 “Our ground game is light years better this year compared to previous seasons, but we’ll be going up against the top defense in the league against the run,” Hatten said.

  “This is going to be a test for both of us,” Hatten continued. “We’re both undefeated, but the two teams we both have played so far haven’t been top-notch competition. The biggest question pertaining to both of us right now is: ‘are they as good as they seem to be or is the sub-par opposition so far?’