South State Preview, Part II: Gautier travels to Picayune for epic rematch in 5A semifinals

GAUTIER, Miss. — Gautier didn’t have to wait very long for a second chance against Picayune, in a rematch of the regular season finale that saw the Maroon Tide claim the Region 4-5A title by way of a 48-42 overtime thriller.

But the Gators never lost sight of the main objective, beating Wayne County by 17 points in the first round and Vancleave by 21 points in the second round.

Leading the way for Gautier is senior quarterback, Ole Miss baseball signee and US Army Bowl All-American Kaden Irving, who’s tops in the state in passing with more than 3,700 yards and 44 touchdowns, plus another 17 scores on the ground.

The Gators are practicing over Thanksgiving for the first time in program history, and they say they’re ready to eat.

“It’s something hard not to be proud of just because South State week, Thanksgiving, playing the number one team in 5A,” said Irving. “It’s time to shock the world.”

“Game of inches,” said Gautier senior wide receiver AJ Phillips. “I mean we’ve just got to go out there and make more plays than they make, make more defensive stops than they make. I mean it’s in front of us, we’ve just got to take it. We’ve prayed for this and worked for this, so we’ve just got to go get it.”

“We’re kind of familiar with each other so there’s going to be some nuances put in by both sides to do something a little different, add a little spice to the pie I guess to say,” said Gautier head football coach Marc High. “Just getting the kids out there and telling them we didn’t come this far to come this far. This wasn’t the destination, so we’re just going to keep grinding and doing what we can.”

Gautier will travel to Picayune for the second time in four weeks for a 7 pm kickoff on Friday for the right to go to state.

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