The rubber will meet the proverbial road on Thursday when Presbyterian Christian welcomes Jackson Academy to Hattiesburg.
With that, the local high school football season will officially be under way.
And what a way to get the 2012 prep season kicked off. PCS head coach Joey Hawkins, who begins his fourth season with the Bobcats, won four MAIS state championships while at Jackson Academy.
But the Bobcats have yet to crack the win column against the Raiders since Hawkins took over as head coach. PCS is 0-5 in the past three seasons against Jackson Academy, including being eliminated from the playoffs by the Raiders in 2010 and 2011.
Last year’s ouster came in particularly heart-breaking fashion for the Bobcats, as JA broke a 9-9 tie on a 60-yard pass with about a minute left in the game. The Raiders won 16-9.
I look for PCS to come out guns blazin’, and give JA all it can handle.
Other big games
But that’s not the only game with big-time intrigue being played this weekend.
North Forrest is travelling to Purvis for what has become a very solid non-region contest.
Purvis is trying to prove it belongs in the conversation as legitimate contenders for the Class 4A state title, while the scrappy Eagles are eager to show they’ve got what it takes to hang with the big boys.
This game is a coin-flip, in my opinion.
The Tornadoes have Thamaz Taylor and several above-average options at other skill positions, but North Forrest is huge up front on offense. And with an extremely experienced quarterback, in Jalen Haskin, running the offense, the Eagles could potentially pull off the upset on Friday.
Then, of course, you’ve got Forrest County AHS at Stone and Sumrall at Oak Grove on Friday. But the two games that’ll probably be the most intense this weekend are Bassfield at Seminary on Friday and Petal at Wayne County on Saturday.
Each one will almost certainly have a playoff-type atmosphere, and all four teams are going to be as jacked as they will all season.
Bassfield appears to be the odds-on favorite to challenge for the Class 2A state title out of the South, while Seminary is coming off a big 2011 season that saw the Bulldogs advance to the Class 3A South State finals.
Not to mention the fact that there’s also neighboring-county bragging rights at stake when the Yellowjackets roll into Seminary.
And finally, the Petal-Wayne County matchup is as choice as you’ll find on the opening weekend of prep football season. In his first game as Panther head coach, Marcus Boyles has to travel to Waynesboro, where he spent the past 12 years as head coach of the War Eagles.
I wouldn’t want to miss that one for anything.