Challenge Ahead: Poplarville has its work cut out against a high caliber Seminary Bulldogs defense

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 31, 2017

POPLARVILLE — The Poplarville Hornets proved themselves to be one of the best football teams in the state after taking down both regional rivals this month. With a powerful offense that can conquer almost any defense, the team is poised to make it to the post season. However, that powerhouse offense will be tested against a playoff caliber Seminary defense Friday night.

The Bulldogs’ defensive front will tower over Poplarville’s offensive linemen including Seminary’s 6’5’’ 270 lb. defensive lineman and Division-I talent Nathan Pickering, who could give this Hornets’ offense some trouble.

“He’s definitely a great talent and is going to be a challenge for our guys, and he isn’t the only big guy on that defensive line. But I have yet to see any of my O-line back down to anyone. It’s going to be a good fight in the trenches,” Poplarville Head Coach Jay Beech said.

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Pickering had a dominant sophomore season in 2016, collecting 72 tackles, 21 sacks, 26 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and batted down four balls. With Pickering at the forefront, the Bulldogs have tallied 44 tackles for a loss in two games this season, averaged 89 tackles per game, forced five fumbles and have gotten to the quarterback six times. Also, the Bulldogs have only conceded six points so far this season.

This dominance is because Pickering has some help, including the 6’0’’ 268 lb. defensive lineman Qvaius Curries who leads Seminary with 10 tackles for a loss and averages eight tackles per game.

If anyone is going to get through these defensive giants, it might just be Austin Bolton, who has averaged 20.4 yards per carry so far this season, 184 yards per game and has reached the end zone five times in two games, all on just 18 carries.

Also, expect the Hornets to use running back Roosevelt Raine’s 6’0’’ 208 lb. frame to push through the Bulldogs’ defensive line.

“Roosevelt has been great for us, and is getting better every week. He’s developing into a great player,” Beech said.

Poplarville’s quarterback Antonio Barnes has been near perfect in his first two games of his third year as the starter, completing six of his seven passes for 89 yards. Although he might experience more pressure against Seminary’s defense, Beech is confident the three-year starter will make the right decisions.

“Antonio has done a lot for this team. He’s put it on the money when he has to and if it isn’t there, he tucks it and makes plays. He makes great decisions and that helps this team get through tough scenarios,” Beech said.

Poplarville (2-0) will host Seminary (2-0) Friday night at 7 p.m.