On one side you a have a program accustomed to postseason play. On the other is a program that hasn’t played in a playoff game since 2009.
This all makes for an intriguing game of the week matchup between Hattiesburg and South Jones.
"We’re hosting a game right here at D.I. Patrick Stadium," Tigers head coach Tony Vance said. "So we’re excited about that opportunity and excited about having a chance to come out and play the neighbors from the north. Hopefully we have a great crowd here Friday night supporting both teams."
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Braves head coach Cory Reynolds understands the magnitude of this matchup.
"It’s huge," Reynolds said. "It’s the playoffs. It’s an exciting time of the year. There’s 16 teams left in 5A right now and we’re glad to be a part of it. We hadn’t been in playoffs since 2009 and real excited to about the opportunity. Hattiesburg is a great team. They’re 11-0 and won the district. Coach Vance has done a great job with them."
Tony Vance’s Tigers finished the season at 11-0..winning their first region title since 1998. They’ve showcased stellar play in all three phases of the game.
"I knew we had a great group of seniors," Vance said. "(We have) 28 seniors so I knew that we had a lot of guys that been around the program, knew what the expectations were. Came up a little short last year in the playoffs. It’s something that we hope helps fuels them."
What stands out most for the Tigers, though, is an explosive offense with weapons all-across the board. The Tigers are outscoring opponents 543-232.
"Their team speed," Reynolds said. "They just get to the football very vey fast. Their schemes. They’re very ..very disciplined. They’re very… very good in the special teams. When you’re good at those things that’s one thing but when you’re fast and good at them it makes it hard to duplicate that in practice."
Now let’s go to South Jones. Just three years ago the Braves went 1-10. Head coach Cory Reynolds and his staff have made sure that stays in the past.
"Just hard work," Reynolds said. "We come in on day one talked about how we’re going to take care of the little things. If we take care of the little things big things will happen. 2015 we missed it by one game. Last year we missed it by one game and this year we finally got in. It’s a good moment for the community. Great for these seniors."
Belief and grit are major elements that have guided the Braves during this historical season. Their close game against one loss Brookhaven a couple weeks ago shows how dangerous this team is.
"Probably plays as hard as any team we’ve played all year," Vance said. "Offensively they’re a spread team that does a great job mixing it up. Running the football off the running back and quarterback. Do a great job spreading it around, throwing the ball down the field. Probably one of the most diverse teams we’ve played in a long time."
The stage is set. The Hattiesburg Tigers are looking to continue on their perfect pace while the South Jones Braves are looking continue their historical season.
"We’ve got to go out and play the game," Vance said. "It’s not won in the media. It’s not won in the newspaper or social media. You gotta go out and play the football game."