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POPLARVILLE — Fifth-ranked and unbeaten Pearl River opens its 2009 MACJC South Division football schedule Thursday when it hosts Hinds here in Dobie Holden Stadium at 6:30 p.m.
The Wildcats improved to 3-0 overall after their hard-fought 38-25 victory over a talented Northwest Mississippi squad in Senatobia last week, while the host Eagles (2-1 overall, 1-0 in division) enter the game off an impressive 30-7 victory over East Central at home to open both teams’ division schedules.
Eighth-year PRCC head coach Tim Hatten says Hinds is a solid team.
“As usual, they’re a typical Hinds team that’s very athletic and can really move around well,” said Hatten. “Defensively, they don’t give up big plays and make stupid mistakes..”
Hinds opened its season with a 16-7 road victory over Northeast Mississippi in Booneville, then was smacked by Northwest Mississippi 23-0 in Senatobia before rebounding with its division win over East Central last week.
New Hinds head coach Gene Murphy, who guided the Eagle program to five state championships from 1994 through 2000 and opted to return to the position after a six-year hiatus following the resignation of Mike Smith last spring, will have his team ready, says Hatten.
“That’s a guy (Murphy) who knows how to coach football,” he said. “They’ll be ready to go come Thursday night...bank on it.”
All told, Murphy coached the Eagles for 16 seasons before stepping down following the 2002 season and handing the reins to Smith, his long-time defensive coordinator. Last year, Hinds struggled to a 1-8 finish, which included a couple of forfiets to division rival East Central and non-division foe Itawamba.
It’s defense, however, was second-best in the league a year ago, but the offense sputtered; scoring a meager 149 points over the course of the season, including 98 in South Division play. The Wildcats will be going up against the state’s fourth-best defensive unit that gives up a stingy 302 yards a game (95.7 rush, 206.3 pass), while Pearl River’s passing game is No. 2 in the league at 335 yards per outing, but leads all comers in total offense with 544.3 per game. PRCC’s running game is fourth-best in the MACJC at 209.3 yards a game compated to HCC’s sixth-best 145.3 per outing.
“We played some stupid football last week up at Northwest, which was disappointing, but when you can come out with a win over a team as talented as they are, you’ve got to be pleased,” Hatten said. “But we made some really stupid mistakes. Twice in punting situations, we had 12 men on the field and they (Northwest) wound up scoring on both of those possession.
“We’ve just go to go in and be ready to play, avoid turnovers, and score points when you get the opportunity.”
Wildcat quarterback Emil Jones, a sophomore who prepped at North Forrest, is second in the state in passing with 1,005 yards (335-yard average) and has completed 69 of 111 throws (three interceptions) and a league-best 10 TDs. He’s No. 1 in the entire nation in individual total offense with 1,117 yards (372.3 a game), as is All-American wide receiver candidate Desmond Ratliff of Canton in receiving yards with 485 through three games. Ratliff leads the MACJC in receiving yards (161.1 a game) and catches with 25 (8.3 a game).
Thursday’s match up marks the 69th time the two football powers have locked horns on the gridiron with the Wildcats leading the rivalry with 36 wins and 31 losses. Pearl River has won its last seven match ups with the Eagles, including a 21-13 victory for the 2004 state title, 2005's 48-26 blowout in Poplarville that marked a record 21 straight wins, 2006's 36-7 pasting in Raymond, 2007's season-ending 39-31 triple-OT win at home, and last year’s 27-10 road win.
PRCC trimmed Hinds 37_30 on the road in 2004’s regular_season battle, marking the first of only two losses for the Eagles that year. In 2003, the Wildcats bopped the Eagles 21_17 for its first MACJC title since 1976, but fell 31_27 in their regular_season battle on a controversial, last_minute 90_plus_yard kick off return in Poplarville.
Pearl River took a 25_22 OT victory in 2001, marking the first time the Wildcats had beaten the Eagles since the 1992 season (a 21_16 win). PRCC followed with a 31_22 victory in Raymond in 2002. Prior 2001's OT thriller, Hinds had reeled off eight straight wins over The River, while grabbing five of its 13 state championships. The Eagles have won six state titles in the last 14 seasons.
Pearl River took a 53_0 victory in the inaugural meeting, then the series didn’t resume until 1941 with Hinds taking an 18_0 shutout, followed by a 30_18 victory in shortened 1942 season due to World War II.
Junior college football all over the state resumed in 1944 and the Eagles reeled off six straight wins over PRCC before the Wildcats answered with a lopsided 27_6 victory in 1950 in coach legend Dobie Holden’s fifth season in Poplarville. The two teams split the ensuing two years, then, in 1953, the rivalry saw its first of two ties (14_14) in the series. The Wildcats and Eagles finished that season as co_champions in the MACJC.
After Hinds took a hard_fought 35_32 win in 1957, the Wildcats won four straight, including a 42_0 shutout in 1959 and a 44_6 lopside in 1961. Pearl River took state titles both of those seasons, including its only national championship in 1961.
Holden retired following the 1966 season, giving up the reins to assistant John Russell who was perfect against the Eagles in his seven years at the Wildcat helm. Hinds scored only 63 points in seven games against Russell’s squads. Russell resigned prior to the 1974 season and assistant coach Harvey Seligman was elevated to head coach. Seligman’s unit fell 17_13 to Hinds.
J.C. Arban took over the Wildcat program in 1975 and the former PRCC and Southern Mississippi offensive coordinator won five straight over the Eagles until Hinds took a 28_5 victory in 1980. In all, Arban was 7_4 against Hinds, but his last three losses — all in succession — were by a combined total of only 14 points.
Mike Nelson succeeded Arban in 1986 and was 1-2-1 versus the Eagles until his departure in 1989, while Willie Coats was 2-3 from 1990 to 1994. The late Keith Daniels was winless at 0-6 from 1995 until midway into the 2000 season when he died of a brain hemorrhage five weeks into the 2000 season. Scott Maxfield pulled off the 2001 overtime victory in his only season at the Wildcat helm in 2001.
Last Week In The MACJC
In other third week action last Thursday, 10 MACJC teams opened their respective division schedules. In the South, 11th-ranked and defending state champ Mississippi Gulf Coast (2-1, 1-0) defeated Southwest Mississippi (1-2, 0-1) 33-16 in Summit and Hinds (2-1, 1-0) bombed East Central (1-2, 0-1) 30-7 in Raymond. In North Division action, second-ranked and defending North champ East Mississippi (3-0) splattered winless Holmes (0-3, 0-1) in Scooba, Coahoma (3-0, 1-0) trimmed winless Mississippi Delta (0-3, 0-1) in Clarksdale, and Northeast Mississippi (1-2, 1-0) smacked Itawamba (1-2, 0-1) 28-21 in Booneville. On Saturday, Jones County (1-2, 1-0) rallied to defeat Copiah-Lincoln (1-2, 0-1) 28-24 in Ellisville for its first win of the season.
This Week In The MACJC
Besides Pearl River’s opener versus Hinds, other South match ups include Southwest Mississippi at Copiah-Lincoln in Wesson and Jones County at East Central in Decatur, while North Division contests include Coahoma at Holmes in Goodman, Northwest Mississippi at Itawamba in Fulton, and Northeast Mississippi at Mississippi Delta in Moorhead. Mississippi Gulf Coast travels to East Mississippi in Scooba for the only non-division game of the week. All games will be played on Thursday.
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Saints ready to practice with Payton again
Even as Sean Payton tried to make the best of his one-season bounty banishment from the NFL by spending time with his children, getting in shape and playing golf, he often compared his punishment to prison time.
He missed his work that much, his players say, adding that his return has infused Saints headquarters with a fresh intensity leading up to Tuesday’s opening of voluntary offseason practices.
Wildcats honored for efforts
Ten Pearl River Community College baseball standouts have earned 2013 post-season honors with center fielder Braxton Lee and catcher-designated hitter Krisjon Wilkerson leading the way with All-Region 23 and All-MACJC first- team accolades.
Season ends for Maroon Tide
Picayune’s magical playoff run came up just short of a spot in the state finals.
Homestanding Pascagoula, the defending Class 5A state champs, took a hard-fought 5-3 win over the Maroon Tidee in game three of the best of three South State finals here Saturday before a capacity crowd at Ingalls Field.
Season ends for Maroon Tide
The season came to an end for the Picayune baseball team Saturday afternoon with a 5-3 loss to homestanding Pascagoula here at Ingalls Field in the third and deciding game of the Class 5A South State championship series.
Tide stays alive
And it all comes down to this.
Picayune and Pascagoula will face off in a one game, winner take all
showdown today at 2 p.m., at Ingalls Field for the Class A South State
prep baseball championship and the right to play for the state title.
Wildcats tring to win Region 23 title
Host Pearl River opened Region 23 Tournament play in dominating fashion here Thursday in Wildcat Stadium, demolishing top-seeded East Central 12-1 in eight innings and now faces second-seeded LSU-Eunice (La.) in Friday’s second round at 7 p.m.
Panther pitcher shuts out Maroon Tide
Pascagoula’s Andrew Crane continued his dominance of Picayune Thursday night.
Season ends for Lady Hornets
Poplarville's season came to and end in the Class 4A South state finals Tuesday night.
The visiting Lady Hornets fell to Newton County 10-2 in game two of the best-of-three series.
Lady Hornets face Newton County
Two more wins, and Poplarville will be playing for the Class 4A state championship in fast-pitch softball.
The Lady Hornets have a chance at getting that first victory today.
Polderman’s, Mitchell win titles
The Picayune Maroon Tide and the Pearl River Central Blue Devils both competed in the Class 5A South State track and field championships this past Saturday at Long Beach High School.
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