No. 13 Long Beach Bearcats (7-1, 4-0) @ No. 18 Vancleave Bulldogs (8-0, 4-0)
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Long Beach at Vancleave will decide Region 4-5A Friday night in Vancleave. Both teams come into the game with an undefeated record in division play. The winner of this game will finish first in the division, with the loser finishing second. Moss Point, the preseason favorite, will be battling it out with Gautier and D'Iberville for the final two playoff spots.
Keys to Victory: Each team's defense has been very stingy so far this season.
Vancleave is giving up 10.6 points per game while Long Beach is giving up 15.4 points per game. Points will be hard to come by Friday night.
Vancleave And Long Beach are each led by middle linebackers who both have exactly 105 tackles on the season. For Vancleave its senior, Travis Taylor and for Long beach its junior, Richie Brown. Taylor has also rushed for 362 yards this season for Vancleave. Brown is Long Beach's second leading receiver averaging more than 23 yards per catch.
The key to victory for each team should be the same. In a big game like this, score first and grab the early advantage. A fast start will be critical in this game. Neither team wants to have to fight back from a two score deficit.
Vancleave is led on offense by its three year starting quarterback; Colin Bray. Bray has rushed for 675 yards this season while passing for another 467. He has also accounted for 11 rushing touchdowns and 3 passing touchdowns. Bray will need to have a good game with no turnovers for his team to win Friday night. As a defensive back Bray has four intercepted passes to lead the Bulldogs in that category.
Long Beach is also led by a senior quarterback, Anthony D'Angelo. D'Angelo has passed for 1,112 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Long Beach is led on the ground by Melvin Britton (493 yards) and Josh Rushing (424 yards). Patric Devlin is leading the Bearcats in receiving with 19 catches for 386 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Key Match Ups: The match up to watch for in this game is between the quarterbacks. Games are not played on paper, so the quarterback who plays better and leads his team by example will win this game. Bray and D'Angelo are both experienced in playing in big games, it should be interesting to see who handles the pressure better.
Another match up to watch for will be on defense. Taylor and Brown have already accounted for over 100 tackles each this season. The each player also plays a key roll in their respective offense and will be match-up all night long.
Brown is rated as one the five best juniors in the state of Mississippi. Long Beach also has another top rated junior in defensive tackle in Nick James. James tips the scales at 6-foot-4, 340-pounds. Vancleave could have problems in blocking James, which would slow down its running game.
The teams have played five common opponents this season and here's how they fared:
St. Patrick W 48-10......St. Patrick W 44-21
St. Martin W 58-6........St. Martin W 47-7
Moss Point W 19-3........Moss Point W 20-18
D'Iberville W 26-14......D'Iberville W 25-0
Gautier W 47-28..........Gautier W 31-15
Prediction: This should be a close game with points being hard to come by. Long Beach's offense should be able to move the ball more effectively behind an experienced offensive line.
Long Beach 14