Hornets look to impress in homecoming match against Sumrall

Published 7:00 am Thursday, October 13, 2016

So far this season, Peytan Graham has crossed the end zone twice while tallying 61 yards for the Poplarville Hornets.

So far this season, Peytan Graham has crossed the end zone twice while tallying 61 yards for the Poplarville Hornets.

The Poplarville Hornets look like a completely different team compared to last season. It seemed that in 2015, the team couldn’t find a rhythm, switching from wins to losses in the last five games of the season. However, Head Football Coach Jay Beech and the Hornets have found the consistency they had in 2014 when the team went 8-2 in the regular season and made it to the District Championship game, something Beech has his eyes on again.

“We aren’t thinking about our streak. We are just taking it one game at a time and making sure we approach every game as if it is the most important,” Beech said. “Our goal is the district championship and we are working hard each week to make that happen.”

On Friday, Sumrall High School will travel to Poplarville in an attempt to stir up the Hornets’ nest and break its five-game winning streak.

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In three of the past four games, the Hornets have limited its challengers to scoring one or two touchdowns per game and have maintained their poise when the defense is breached.

“This defensive group is real senior-heavy,” Beech said. “They have a lot of experience on the field and most of them have been playing together for a long time.”

This cohesive unit will be tested by an offense that resembles the same style as St. Martin High School, the team that gave the Hornets its only loss of the season so far.

With a pass-heavy attack, the Bobcats will attempt to capitalize on its powerful link between quarterback Rhett Harvey and wide receiver Dannis Jackson.

Although Harvey enjoys spreading the ball to all his receivers—tallying 2096 passing yards and 22 touchdowns shared by five receivers—it is no secret that his favorite target is Jackson, who has 849 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

When Harvey isn’t throwing the ball, he is making plays on the ground, leading the Bobcats in total rushing yards and touchdowns so far this season.

The dual-threat quarterback has raced across the goal line 10 times. He is responsible for 32 of the 39 touchdowns for the Bobcats this season.

Last year, Poplarville dismantled Sumrall in a 56-3 victory. However, this year’s Sumrall team has improved and matured since, switching from a record of 3-8 (1-4) to 5-3 (1-1) so far this season.

However, stopping the Hornets’ running game is a difficult undertaking, even for an improved Sumrall.

Poplarville’s running back Austin Bolton is a candidate for Sun Herald Player of the Year this season, but Beech thinks he has more than one potential Player of the Year on his team.

“I think we have a lot of talent on the offense. Jesse Pernell is right behind Austin in production. They play off each other great. The whole team recognizes that our success doesn’t come from just one person, but a collective effort from everyone and that is helping us progress through the season,” Beech said.

Although Sumrall’s defense has proven time and time again they can stop the run—controlling half of their opponents to less than 200 rushing yards—it will be a headache for the Bobcats to stop the dynamic backfield of Bolton and Pernell, who average 254.5 yards per game and share 19 touchdowns on the ground.

With 108 yards and a pair of end zone appearances through the air, Bolton’s diversity leads the team in receiving.

And yet, when these two are not in the backfield, the Hornets still have weapons in Tyler Griffin and Chris Fowler that fill in behind a rock-solid offensive line to keep defenses on their toes.

The Poplarville Hornets look to shine in the homecoming game against Sumrall High School this Friday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Tyson Holston takes a handoff down the middle of the field against FCAHS.

Tyson Holston takes a handoff down the middle of the field against FCAHS.