The 5 finest soccer matches within the area for the 2021 season
Pine Belt football season is just over a month away. Every year this area is treated to some of the most exciting games in the state. The 2021 season should stay on par with that, especially given the recent reclassification that gives several boroughs newer and tougher competition.
Purvis vs. Lumberton – Aug 27
This is a really interesting area match between 4A Purvis and the reigning state champion of 1A Lumberton.
For Lumberton, this is the first of four tough non-district matches the Panthers have contested this season, including 4A Lawrence County, Wesson, which finished 8-3 last year, and 4A-State runner-up Poplarville. Purvis will be a good test for Lumberton, returning several starters from his state championship team, even without stud-running back Robert Henry.
For Purvis, who started 4-0 last year but derailed from COVID-19, the tornadoes led 6-4. Purvis brings back several starters but lost quarterback Hunter Robinson and talented two-way player Ty Badon.
This game will be a great test of both programs to see where they stand.
Hattiesburg at Laurel November 5th
Adding this matchup to the list is a breeze, but this year’s game is very different. These two classic rivals are now in the same district, which only increases the stakes and stirs the fire for this game.
Both teams lost quite a bit of talent last season, but as we’ve seen, both Hattiesburg and Laurel keep improving as the season progresses and always getting into the playoffs.
Hattiesburg was 3: 3 before the elimination and won four games in a row to reach the playoffs. The Tigers were three points short of reaching the South State Championship. Laurel started the year 0-3 and won the second round of the playoffs.
This year, these two rivals are playing against each other in the regular season final, and this could very well be the game that decides who gets to the playoffs and who doesn’t.
Sumrall at Columbia Oct. 1
Sumrall had an odd year last season, but talent shone when the Bobcats were two minutes away from making the South State Championship game. The Bobcats bring some new talent and have a very experienced corps of players who might very well see them making a run in the postseason.
Columbia is a new addition to 4A Region 7, which makes this region even more difficult. The Wildcats bring back much of their talent from a team that won 10 games last year and was just a touchdown away from a 3A State Championship appearance.
Sumrall opens the regional game against Columbia, so this will be a real test for the Bobcats to see if they can finally bring it all together.
Oak Grove in Brandon October 22 Oct.
Brandon was the only team to challenge Oak Grove in the regular season when the Warriors came out with a 24-22 win.
The Warriors and Bulldogs enter a new chapter when Brandon hired Sam Williams to lead the program. Williams is a young and aspiring coach who led Ridgeland to a 10-3 season and an appearance in the South State Championship. Previously, Williams led Pelahatchie to three straight playoff appearances, finishing 27-11.
Both Brandon and Oak Grove are returning most of their teams from last year, so this game should be pivotal in deciding on the competitive 6A Region 3, which now includes Meridian, Petal, Terry, Pearl, Northwest Rankin and Warren Central.
Lumberton vs. Taylorsville October 15th
The reigning 1A state champions and 2A state champions will meet as enemies of the region this year. What’s not to like about it? These two teams combined for a 24-2 record last year (each one lost).
Taylorsville is now without his graduate star quarterback Ty Keyes. Likewise, Lumberton is without stud running back Robert Henry. Both teams, however, have a lot of talent.
At the same time, both teams lack the head coaches who were critical to running the two programs, as Mitch Evans of Taylorsville took the job at the seminary while Zach Jones of Lumberton took the job at Magee.
Both the Tatars and Panthers are giving back most of their initial defense, and some skillful players who have been waiting for their turn are the main sources of production on the offensive side of the ball.
This game will likely decide who wins the title in the region, but it is very likely that these two teams will clash