Petal host No. 2 ranked Pearl Friday

By JESSE JOHNSON,

Petal will host the Pearl Pirates in a key district game as the two powerhouse teams square up Friday night for the Game of the Week in Pine Belt area play.

It’s also Homecoming for the Panthers.

Petal is coming off a road loss to the Laurel Tornadoes but has had a bye week and extra time to prepare for the tough matchup ahead.

The Pirates are ranked No. 2 in the state overall and head into this week’s matchup with a 3-1 record with their only loss at the hands of the No. 1 team in the state, Madison Central.

The Pirates are averaging 147 yards passing and 270 yards rushing with 23 total touchdowns scored in four games this year.

“Pearl is big on both sides of the ball,” Boyles said. “I think offensively they have a lot of weapons mixed in with a lot of personnel groups. Sometimes they spread out with one tight end and four receivers, then you will look up and they will have four tight ends and one receiver. Mixed with a great quarterback and running back, it can be a challenging time for us. Defensively, their front seven will fly to the football and play aggressive.

Having a bye week will help the Panthers prepare for the battle ahead.

“We got a lot of things accomplished with our bye week,” Boyles said. “We got some guys healthy which is huge for us. We also got to work on some things that sometimes with a normal game we don’t get the opportunity to work on which is very beneficial for us moving forward.”

Boyles thinks the loss to Laurel was a learning experience and he believes there could be some positives in losing earlier in the year before a tough division second half of the season.

“I think that Laurel played really good the other night,” Boyles said. “For some reason we didn’t match their intensity. At times we were sloppy on both sides of the ball. I think it was a good wakeup call for us and really got us refocused and brought us back down to earth. We took that loss and got some really good practice time in which made us focus on what we really need to do to have a chance to win on Friday nights.”

“I never played 12 weeks in a row, Boyles said. “I think it allowed us to regroup and get some guys much-needed rest and also reevaluate ourselves. We had a chance to see what we are doing good and bad and to correct the mistakes we have tallied up so far this the season. Our guys that were banged up, it allowed us to get them some treatment and ready for district play.”

Petal will host Pearl Friday night at 7 pm.