• John Macon Gillespie

GoW: Thunder & Destruction

As you would expect, based on their records, Poplarville(6-1, 3-0) and Purvis(6-2, 3-0) have been steady on defense all season. Not perfect, but steady. Offense hasn’t been an issue for either team as they are two of the better rushing teams in Mississippi. While both defenses have been tested at times, they have held firm for the most part.

That is what can confuse you coming into a game like this. Both teams run the ball well and both teams have defended well this season. So who comes out on top. Well, even with star power on the offensive side of the ball, the two defensive units are going to decide the result of this game.

Purvis hasn’t lost since game two of the season, after falling in game one, as well. They allowed a season-high 46 to North Pike in week one, then 24 in a loss at Seminary in week two. In their six-game winning streak, they have given up 20 or more points in four games. In the other two contests, they have surrendered 13 to Sumrall, and last week in a win over Columbia they pitched a shutout.

The player to highlight defensively for the Tornadoes is also a guy that was also highlighted offensively. CJ Bolar has five interceptions this season, which is more catches on defense than five of the six other receivers besides him have catches on offense. He has been absolute x-factor this season, whenever he has been on the field. Though there could be a shortage of passes coming from Poplarville, look for Bolar to still make his impact felt in this one.

Twice this season Poplarville has allowed their opponent to score 35 points. The first time it happened it came against a high-powered offensive team in St. Martin. That was in the season-opener and was the only loss so far for the Hornets in 2016. The second time it happened was against Stone, a game Poplarville narrowly won 38-35.

In the six other game this season, however, 21 points is the most allowed by Jay Beech’s defense. Twice the have allowed less than 10 points. This is a stout defensive unit with many returning playmakers from a season ago.

Jamerrick Waller, Wyatt Duncan and Chad Hart have led the pass-rushing charge with three sacks each. Meanwhile, five Hornet defenders have an interception this season, led by Aritaeus Johnson who has three. A pair of sophomores, Tyson Holston and Ross Barnett, are productive for the Poplarville defense, as well. In fact, Barnett leads the team in tackles.

This defensive match-up could live out this weekly segment’s name more so than any Game of the Week this season. Then again, these two offenses could make a high-scoring game of it. Either way, look for the defenses to make their mark on this game whether it be a critical stop or turnover, or whether it is a defensive battle.

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