The Sumrall Bobcats are one win away from clinching a playoff spot for the second straight year, as Forrest County AHS comes to town Friday night. Sumrall is currently on a two-game losing streak after the 7-0 start of the season, but coach Shannon White believes his team was a few plays away from winning both games.
Trailing 20-14 last week, Sumrall forced Poplarville into a three-and-out, but one of those few plays that cost it the game happened on the ensuing punt.
“We just messed up on the punt and they got the ball back,” White said. “It was close and it was two good teams playing and there are always four or five plays that turn the tide. For two weeks in a row, we were right there.
“We’re so close to being really good. I think our guys know that so we feel good about the way we’re playing, but we have to improve if we want to make a run in the playoffs.”
White believes every play in a game is an important play, but once the game is over he can look back on a few plays that changed the game more than the others. Of course, there are a few plays he’d like to have back, too.
“In tight games like that, it comes down to things of that nature, but we have to get better,” he said. “I think our defense can’t play a whole lot better. They’ve done a super job. Offensively, we’ve been good most of the year but the last two weeks we’ve left a touchdown or two on the field. You can’t do that when you’re playing on the road against really good teams.”
Defensively, Poplarville’s 26 points were the least amount of points it’s scored in a win, and the second lowest points it’s scored this season.
The Aggies (1-8, 0-3) enter Friday night’s game with Sumrall scuffling. In the last three games, they allowed opponents to score at least 48 points while the offense has only put up six total points through 12 quarters of play. Lawrence County beat FCAHS 51-0, Poplarville dominated in tune to a 62-6 rout and Greene County shut FCAHS out last week 48-0.
FCAHS’ lone win was a Week 6 20-14 win over Hazlehurst.
“We see a team that you can’t overlook,” White said of the Aggies. “We’re at the time of year where you have to play well every week. You can’t afford an off week. They’ve had their struggles, for sure, but if you start looking at those things then you’ll fall into playing at a level we don’t need to be playing at. Our focus the next two weeks is trying to win two ballgames and get better. They’re next up and it’s homecoming week, so we have a lot of challenges this week getting our guys ready to play.”
White calls Forrest County’s offense a “Picayune offense” because of the tradition the Maroon Tide has built with their power toss run plays. The Aggies have rushed the ball 305 times to 52 passing attempts, and they’ve collected 1,347 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, adding to 192 passing yards on 29 percent.
Junior Devonte Dixon leads the way with 513 yards and three scores on 119 carries, and seniors Jamal Myers and Jaibohri Fairley are second and third on the team with 85 and 60 carries, respectively.
“They have a new coach down there and he’s putting his system in,” White said. “Those kids are playing really hard. They run a scheme that’s really difficult to deal with, and we call it the “Picayune offense” because I think they made it famous. It’s a tough system.”