Lafayette High head football coach Anthony Hart considers his team’s first-round playoff opponent a higher seed than it actually is.
“I feel like we’re playing a second-place team in a division,” Hart said of North Pontotoc.
The Vikings were two or three plays away from finishing atop the Division 1-4A standings. North Pontotoc lost its first two division games this season by a combined five points.
“New Albany was able to wear them down and beat them,” Hart said.
So, after winning its final two games of the regular season, North Pontotoc ended the regular season with a 2-3 division record and a berth in the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs as a fourth seed.
“We made it a goal to make the playoffs,” Vikings first-year head coach Brian Sutton said of his team’s first Class 4A postseason appearance. “We made it a must to get in. Now that we made it, we’re going to make it a goal to let people know that this is not a fluke.
“These kids deserve being in the playoffs for the way they worked this year and busted their tails.”
Although the Vikings squeezed their way into the final playoff spot out of Division 1-4A by defeating Pontotoc 51-50 in their regular-season finale last week, they are still a big concern for the Daily Journal’s top-ranked large school.
“Looking at them on offense, they score a load of points,” said Hart, whose Commodores are 11-0 entering tonight’s opening-round playoff game on their home field. “Anytime you face a team that puts points on the board, especially against some of those teams in that division, that presents a concern.”
The Vikings scored 45, 42 and 26 points against Itawamba AHS, Shannon and New Albany, respectively, but lost all three of those games. The one good thing to come out of each of those games is that the Vikings were tested.
“We drew the straw and we have to play Lafayette, which is supposedly the best team in the North,” Sutton said. “We’ll find out Friday night.
“We’re going to do everything we can possibly do to win that football game. We just need to go over there and play the way we’re capable of. We have to put ourselves in position to win the football game.
“We’re not going over there just to lose in the first round.”
Lafayette, on the other hand, hasn’t really been tested in the past two months. After defeating Oxford 21-14 on Sept. 3, the Commodores have outscored their last eight opponents by a combined 339-57.
Lafayette’s average margin of victory for its six Division 2-4A games was 38.5 points.
“They’ll no doubt be a concern for us,” Hart said about North Pontotoc. “Their coaches do a good job.
“They do a good job on both sides of the ball. I think they’re one of the better teams we’ll have played this year.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal