We’re just eight short days away from playoff football in Mississippi, as some classifications get things started next Friday while the others begin the second week of November. We have five teams that have either clinched or are still alive for the postseason, but there’s still a lot left to be decided.
Of the five teams, Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, Sumrall and Lumberton have all clinched a spot. That leaves Petal as the only team in our coverage area still alive for a playoff spot.
So let’s start with the Panthers.
It’s pretty simple, win and they’re in. Petal got over its biggest hurdle, in my opinion, last week with a road win at Meridian. After a 0-3 start to region play, Petal had to win its final four games to make its 11th straight playoff appearance, and so far it’s won two of those games.
There are two games left on the schedule and both are at home. In consecutive weeks, George County and Terry come to Petal, and two more wins will get the Panthers in the postseason.
Now let’s switch to Sumrall, which is the only team of the four potentially postseason-bound teams that can’t win the region. With one game left, the four playoff teams are set in stone. Poplarville, Greene County, Lawrence County and Sumrall will all play next week in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
The order, however, is not set. Depending on Friday’s results, the Bobcats could finish anywhere from fourth place to second. Sumrall (2-2) hosts Greene County (3-1) while Lawrence County (3-1) will travel to Poplarville (4-0).
Things could get really messy if Sumrall beats Greene County and Poplarville takes down Lawrence County, because there will be a three-way tie for second place and the point differential will determine the order. If Sumrall loses, the fourth seed is where it’ll fall. If Lawrence County beats Poplarville and Sumrall wins, Sumrall will place third.
Lumberton and Hattiesburg can lock up region titles with wins Friday night, as the Panthers host Stringer and Hattiesburg travels to Long Beach. The Tigers have the luxury of having to win just one of their last two games of the season to win the region, while Lumberton has to beat Stringer this week. However, Lumberton could lose the season finale at Salem, but if that happened, something will have to go seriously wrong for the Panthers.
Lumberton needs the tiebreaker over the Red Devils, but Hattiesburg already earned the necessary tiebreaker over its toughest competition in the region – Picayune.
Oak Grove’s standing in the region is still very much unknown. It had a legit chance to get a leg up in the region last week, but Oak Grove fell to Brandon. Now, the Warriors must beat Pearl Friday night if they want to host a first-round playoff game. A loss will almost certainly lock Oak Grove into the third seed, meaning it’ll travel to a team on the coast in the playoffs.
If the Warriors win Friday night against Pearl, another win over Jim Hill the next week will give them the No. 2 spot in the postseason.
The puzzle will start to come together following this week’s games, so we’ll have a better idea what the playoff bracket will look like then. It’s an exciting time of the year, so stay locked in to PineBeltSPORTS.com for coverage.
Follow Camal on Twitter via @PineBeltSPORTS or email him: camal@PineBeltSPORTS.com