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Lawrence County Cougars’ season ends against top-ranked Poplarville

One of the state’s best football teams is coming to Monticello Friday night, and then the high-mast lights over the football field will turn off for the last time this season.

For the Lawrence County Cougars (3-7, 0-4), 2017 ends at home against the Poplarville Hornets, an undefeated foe in Region 7-4A considered one of the best squads in the state. With the door to the playoffs already closed and barred to the Cougars, their last chance to make noise this year will be to pull off an upset and send the Hornets to the post-season scratching their heads.

Lawrence County head coach Jaymie Palmer said Poplarville’s scheme presents a host of challenges.

“They’re going to outnumber you in the box and make you throw the ball, and that’s not really what we like to do. But we’re going to have to this week,” he said.

The Poplarville defense will be led by senior cornerback D.J. Travis, a talented defender listed as a two-star recruit and the No. 63 overall player in Mississippi by 247sports.com. Arkansas State and Southern Miss are trying to lure him to their campuses.

With the Cougars favoring the ground game, it will likely fall to Lawrence County’s leading rushers to get past Travis and the Hornets defense.

Junior Jadarrius Grandberry should see plenty of action and have a chance to add to his season total of 297 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Kylan Cooper will also be in the mix. So far this year, he’s rushed for 356 yards and three touchdowns.

Even if the Cougars pull off the upset, their season ends with Poplarville. Lawrence County sits winless at the bottom of Region 7-4A, and even if one-win Sumrall or Forrest County stumbles Friday night, both teams have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cougars.

It was a tough season. The Cougars’ three victories were all in close games against Raleigh, Bay St. Louis and Franklin County, with field goals the only difference in the latter two games. They moved the ball and scored a respectable amount of points in most games, but the defense allowed opponents to run wild — Purvis scored 60, while Greene County ran it up to 46.

Leadership in 2018 shouldn’t be a problem. While nine seniors are playing their final game Friday, the Lawrence County roster shows 25 juniors moving up for next season.