Hornets accomplish another successful season under Head Coach Jay Beech
Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 30, 2017
Poplarville faced a 21-point deficit on two different occasions in the Class 4A South State Championship game against East Central that ended the Hornet’s season last week. Many had written off Poplarville and given East Central the win before the end of the game. But that did not include Head Coach Jay Beech, the assistant coaches, the players and the fans, who filled the stadium up to four hours before kickoff.
The nail biting moment took place in a matter of 16 minutes between the third and fourth quarter when Poplarville outscored East Central 21-3 and tied the ballgame at 45-apiece. At that point, Hornets fans hoped they would pull one of the most epic victories in the program’s history.
Unfortunately for Poplarville, East Central came out on top at the end of the game.
“I have never been more proud than I am right now,” Beech said last Friday. “This one hurts but we gave it to them. I’m extremely proud of everyone.”
For the Hornets, the 2017 regular season began with a rivalry matchup at home against Picayune Memorial High School. In an evenly played game, Poplarville scored 14 points in the second half to seal the team’s first victory of the season.
Afterwards, Poplarville earned two victories over Pearl River Central High School and Seminary High School before taking on Stone High School. While the games against PRC and Seminary were easy wins, Stone County put up a fight.
In that game, Poplarville trailed by eight points heading into the fourth quarter against Stone but two touchdowns late in the game helped the Hornets extend its winning streak to four games.
Once region play started, Poplarville continued to gain momentum earning victories against Greene County High School, Forrest County Agricultural High School, Sumrall High School, Purvis High School and Lawrence County High School to finish with an undefeated record in region 7-4A.
At the end of the regular season, the Hornets entered the playoffs undefeated 10-0 and won its third region title in four years.
In the first round of the Class 4A playoffs, Poplarville hosted Northeast Lauderdale and defeated them 42-27. One week later, the team traveled to Bay St. Louis to take on St. Stanislaus in another hard fought win. Just before halftime, Peytan Graham picked up a fumble at about the 50-yard line and ran it all the way to the end zone to give the Hornets the momentum they had been searching for the entire game. Once the scoreboard hit triple zero’s, Poplarville beat the Rock-A-Chaws with a 42-31 and moved on to the third round to rematch region rival Purvis High School.
For the second week in a row, the Hornets were on the road and looked to make it to the South State Championship game for the second year in a row. Going into halftime, Poplarville led Purvis 7-0 and it looked like the victory could go to either team. The Tornadoes received the ball to begin the second half and just when it appeared as though Purvis would tie the game, senior cornerback DJ Travis came away with an interception that proved a momentum booster for Poplarville. After the turnover, the Hornets went on to score 26 points in the second half and defeated Purvis 33-12.
Heading into the Class 4A South State Championship game, Poplarville had won 13 games in a row, one of the team’s longest winning streaks in recent years.
“We had a great season and it was a fun ride,” Beech said. “We had a great group of seniors who fought hard and won a lot of games. Last Friday, they kept fighting and they never gave up.”