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State playoffs unpredictable

“Wake me up!

    “I must be dreaming!”

    A startled sports fan announced his feelings upon hearing the news.Neither Brookhaven, McComb, Pearl nor No. 1-seeded Wayne County hadadvanced past the opening round of the Class 5A state playoffs. Itwas a collective nightmare for the four teams representing Region3-5A.

    On any given night, who knows what upsets are lurking in theshadows. Just ask Oklahoma and Boise State, to name a few.

    Most remarkable was Wayne County’s 29-28 home field loss to PearlRiver Central on the War Eagles’ artificial turf. PRC, everybody’sfavorite homecoming opponent, has risen from the ashes. The BlueDevils climbed out of the abyss and struck a stunning blow for theunderdogs.

    Shucks, the Blue Devils were 1-10 last year. Second-year PRC coachEric Collins deserves a medal of achievement. However, his mainconcern is Friday night’s home game against Long Beach, a 31-28winner over Brookhaven.

    Pascagoula plays No. 1 seed Picayune in the other South 5Asemifinals game. Picayune trashed McComb 35-6 and Pascagoulashocked Pearl 28-21 last Friday.

    In the North 5A, Ridgeland plays Center Hill and 2-time defendingstate champion West Point tackles Starkville.

    First-year Brookhaven head coach Wade Henderson is optimistic aboutthe 2012 campaign. His Panthers lost a 31-28 heart-breaker at LongBeach last Friday night. They finished the season 7-4, losing 4 oftheir last 5 games.

    Henderson said the 2012 senior class has potential and the juniorsshow potential. There’s a group of freshmen who haveexceptional  speed andtalent, especially at running back.

    Henderson will have his top two quarterbacks  returning in Zach Smith and FredTrevillion. He must fill some positions on the offensive line andRoss Hill at wide receiver, plus several spots on defense,including cornerback Greg Sims. He also must replace kicker/punterSteven Davey who did a remarkable job in his first varsityseason.

    Brookhaven Academy (10-3), under first-year head coach TrippMcCarty, won a sixth straight district championship and reached thesecond round of the MAIS Class AA state playoffs before losing tounbeaten powerhouse Simpson Academy. He has quarterback Gage Poseyand running back Landon Nettles returning to the offensivebackfield.

    Several positions on offense and defense must be filled. All-Statereceiver/punter Bubba Keene will leave some large shoes tofill.

    At Bogue Chitto, the future looks bright for Coach Gareth Sartin’sBobcats who finished 9-3. They only lose three seniors in runningback Colton McClendon, linebacker Kevin Brothern and linemanDevonte Bracey.

    The Bobcats have a 1-2 offensive punch returning in quarterbackBrock Roberts and running back Brandon Wells, plus an all-starreceiver in Germie Martin. The offensive line should be bigger andstronger. Their defense should be improved as the three Blackwellbrothers return.

    Defense will be the key to BC’s Class 1A state playoff chances inthe future. The Bobcats went belly-up for a third year in a row,losing to Nanih Waiya 47-zip. Unfortunately, the third time wasn’ta charm.

    Wesson must replace eight starters from its Region 6-2A runner-upteam. Coach Tommy Clopton’s Cobras (5-6, 4-1) lost a last-minute,27-21 decision to North Forrest in the opening round of theplayoffs. The Eagles continued soaring last week as they knockedoff previously unbeaten Taylorsville 21-19, handing the Tartarstheir first loss in 12 games.

    North Forrest plays East Marion and Madison St. Joseph visitsBassfield in the South 2A semifinals Friday night.

    Hazlehurst is the only area team still alive in the state playoffs.The Class 3A Indians (11-1) host unbeaten Philadelphia (13-0)Friday night in what should be a classic. Coach Randall Montgomeryhas done a great job in his first year at the helm of Hazlehurst’sfootball fortunes.

    

    Meanwhile, Professor Hoopla B.S. is preparing for a classicThanksgiving Day feast. Judging from his waistline, he’s alreadybeen in training for several months.

    Hoopla deposited his latest list of fearless football predictionsthrough the  mail slot inthe front door. They were written on the back of a Mitchell’sRestaurant menu.

    Last week he predicted the winners of 18 games and got 14 right.Here’s his preview of this weekend’s games, starting with aThursday night special.

     Southern Miss at UAB: No. 22-ranked GoldenEagles receive some more national exposure with tonight’s game atLegion Field in Birmingham. Southern Miss 44-14.

     Philadelphia atHazlehurst:  Pass thetomahawks, please. Indians author an ambush Friday night atMcDaniel Field. Hazlehurst 24-21.

     LSU at Ole Miss: Forgive the No. 1-rankedTigers for being overly confident when they visit the reelingRebels Saturday night. The cute black bear mascot puts anothercardboard box over his head. LSU 42-7.

     Mississippi State atArkansas:  War MemorialStadium in Little Rock is the scene of this SEC massacre. Arkansas39-14.

     Alcorn State at JacksonState:       All of the Braves wantto  wear dark sunglassesafter getting embarrassed Saturday in the Capital City. JacksonState 52-12.

    

    Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email:tgoetz@dailyleader.com