Hornets head to the playoffs against a rocky Pirates team

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cornerback D.J. Travis intercepts a pass in last Friday’s tilt against Columbia High School.

Cornerback D.J. Travis intercepts a pass in last Friday’s tilt against Columbia High School.

In a highly anticipated postseason draw, the No. 1 seed Poplarville Hornets take on the No. 4 seed Pass Christian in the first round of the 2016 MHSAA 4A Football Championship.

Pass Christian—a team that’s lost 4 out of its 5 away games during the regular season—travel to Poplarville to take on the undisputed 7-4A District Champions who haven’t lost a game since their season opener against St. Martin High School.

Throughout the season, the Pirates leaned on its running back VJ Swanier’s shoulders to get through a couple close games, including the Pirates’ 35-28 victory against Resurrection Catholic, in which Swanier had 182 rushing yards and a hat trick of touchdowns. Also, Swanier was instrumental in the game against West Harrison on Sept. 9, running for 315 yards on 20 totes and four touchdowns, sailing the Pirates to a 38-21 win.

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However, with the Pirates struggling in away games this season and the Hornets being undefeated at home, Pass Christian has its hands full as they try to stop a Hornets backfield that has proven to be a problem to the opposition.

During the regular season, no defense was able to contain Poplarville’s running game to less than 290 yards in a game and only one team—St. Martin—held the Hornets to scoring only one rushing touchdown.

Overall, the Hornets ran for 3,249 yards and 41 touchdowns in the regular season. Senior Jesse Pernell and junior Austin Bolton acquired roughly 67 percent of the total yards and tacked on 30 touchdowns in just eight games.

Bolton’s talent can impact a game in multiple ways. As the leading receiver, Bolton has seven total receptions for 184 yards and catching a team high three touchdowns this season.

The Hornets’ offense will be prepared to make their presence known in the 2016 MHSSA 4A Football Championship tournament as they average 44 points per game, and its defense will be prepared to stop opposing offenses as they come into the first round of the playoffs, holding its opponents to an average of 15.5 points at home. Pass Christian scores an average of 14.8 points in its away games this season.

The first round playoff game between Poplarville and Pass Christian will kickoff in Poplarville at 7 p.m. on Friday.