Part 1: Potential Top 15 matchups of '18 prep season

By CAMAL PETRO,

For the third straight year, we’ll discuss the potential Top 15 matchups of the upcoming high school football season. For three weeks, five of those matchups will be discussed and it’s not in any particular order.

Lumberton at Resurrection

This matchup between 1A powers has become the de facto region championship. The 1A South State Championship in 2015 was the first game I ever covered when I joined PineBeltSPORTS, and I knew then this series would be intense every time these two teams played.

The Panthers have won the regular season game the last two years, but the Eagles upended Lumberton in the second round of the playoffs in 2017. Resurrection lost a handful of skill players while Lumberton returns a significant amount. However, Resurrection has been known to replace players year in and year out. It should be another exciting game between the two 1A rivals.

Petal at Hattiesburg

As Hattiesburg and Petal have developed top programs in 5A and 6A, respectively, this matchup is quickly becoming the best Week 1 contest in the entire state. Just in the last two years, the two have combined for a ton of points. In 2016, Petal won 56-42 and Hattiesburg won last year’s game 43-37.

Hattiesburg is coming off a 5A State Championship appearance and looks primed for another deep playoff run. Petal, on the other hand, has a few questions to answer.

Another interesting note is the home team hasn’t won since 2013 when Petal shutout the Tigers. Can Petal pull off a fifth straight road win in the series, or will Hattiesburg hold home field?

Meridian at Oak Grove

Just this week, Meridian coaches and players were retweeting two-year-old videos on the PineBeltSPORTS Twitter reminiscing about the 2016 Meridian win over Oak Grove. That was a low-scoring slugfest while Oak Grove’s 2017 win was a basketball score, 66-41.

The Wildcats got better as the season progressed last year, while the Warriors went in the opposite direction. Both teams return a bunch of talent, too.

The timing of this game is crucial for both teams. Meridian will be battle tested with games against Tupelo, two Alabama teams, Noxubee County and Pearl before the matchup with Oak Grove. The Warriors have a really good shot at having only one or two losses at that point, and a win against Meridian could propel them into games with Brandon Pearl later that month.

Purvis at Sumrall

The Battle of Highway 589 shouldn’t be the first region game of the season for the two teams, but that’s exactly what it is for the fourth straight year since Sumrall moved up to 4A. The Tornadoes are 3-0 in those games, too, but Sumrall has inched closer and closer to Purvis’ level.

This season, Sumrall has all the experience a team could ask for. It returns Billy Garrity at quarterback, Dannis Jackson at receiver and numerous other players from this senior class on both sides of the ball. Purvis, however, has to replace all of its top skill players on offense.

This could be the year Sumrall finally overtakes Purvis on the football field, and it’ll get a chance to do that at home.

PCS at West Marion

The Derek White era kicks off with a road game to West Marion, and it should be an exciting time for the Bobcats’ program. I honestly don’t know what to make of this Bobcats’ team, but I do know this game is vital for PCS to get off to a good start to the season.

It’ll be a tough road for the Bobcats and who knows what a Week 1 win could do for the players’ mindset.

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