PINE BELT (WDAM) - After slow starts this fall, both Purvis and Greene County high schools seemed to have righted their respective ships and had their seasons headed in the right direction.
Then, came last week.
Purvis (4-2, 1-0 Region 7-4A) won its regional opener to extend its winning streak to four, consecutive games, but lost its offensive triggerman and leading rusher, quarterback Ty Howell with a foot injury.
"It's going to hurt us not having all our players on the field," Purvis coach Perry Wheat said
Greene County (2-4, 0-1) had dropped its first three games before bouncing back with wins over Moss Point and Vancleave.
But the Wildcats were pounded 60-13 in their regional opener by Poplarville.
"They came in and played an outstanding game," Greene County coach Johnny Ainsworth said. "We've had our ups and downs, but I thought we played an outstanding game against Moss Point when they came up and we played well against Vancleave. But Poplarville, they just came more ready to play than we did."
So, on Friday night, it could come down to which team best adjusts to adversity.
Wheat said the Tornadoes would try to continue to play the kind of relatively clean football that had served them so well during their winning streak.
"The first few games, we just made so many mistakes," Wheat said. "Turnovers, bad snaps, things like that. It was just heartbreaking. Those first two games, I think we had seven drives stopped by holding penalties, so it was frustrating. But, hopefully, we've matured and gotten a little better at eliminating those mistakes."
When asked, Wheat said quarterback would be handled by "committee." Regardless, Purvis still will rely on an experienced offensive front to get Wheat's ground game cranked up.
Howell's injury took 516 yards rushing and four touchdowns off the table, but the Tornadoes still have running back John Bolton (330 yards, two touchdowns) and Dylan Curtis (318 yards, nine touchdowns).
Bolton ran for 120 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in a 42-13 win over Sumrall last week, while Curtis ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns on just five carries against the Bobcats.
The Tornadoes held Sumrall to 194 total yards.
Greene County has relied on ninth-grader Jaden Walley at quarterback and receiver Fred McGee.
"Purvis has an outstanding team, so we're going to have to come and play a really good football game," Ainsworth said. "Year after year, they always have athletes, always have speed."
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