By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
KOSSUTH – Just when Mooreville’s Kevin Austin thought his team had figured out Kossuth, the Aggies would have them guessing wrong.
“They had a great plan for us defensively tonight,” Austin said after his Mooreville team dropped a 26-7 decision on the road to the Aggies Friday. “They were playing some man and they were mixing it up well.
“When we would think that we would have them pinpointed, they would go against what we thought. So they did a good job.”
The second-ranked Aggies certainly did against third-ranked Mooreville, a team that had been averaging more than 42 points per game.
And the only thing keeping the undefeated Aggies (5-0) from being ranked ahead of Aberdeen in the Daily Journal’s Class 3A rankings is that the two-time defending North champion Bulldogs have played a brutal non-division schedule.
They have played three games against teams ranked in Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Top 25 and defeated two solid Class 4A teams (Shannon and Amory) and nearly came away with victories against Noxubee County, West Bolivar and Louisville.
Not to mention, the Bulldogs blew out the Aggies 50-6 in a first-round playoff game last season.
Still, take nothing away from the 2011 Aggies. They are indeed a good team. Just ask a division opponent of Aberdeen’s.
“I knew they were going to be good,” said Austin, whose team had defeated Kossuth by identical 17-13 scores the past two seasons. “And this is always a hard-fought game.”
So what makes the Aggies good, you ask?
Let’s start with an offensive line that paved the way for seven different ball carriers to rush for 281 yards and four touchdowns in Friday’s game.
“We don’t have a lot of speed team-wise. We have to utilize what we have, and that’s the power (running) game for us,” first-year Aggies head coach Brian Kelly said. “We got a smart, cagey quarterback (Jay Vanderford), but our offensive line did a great job (Friday).
“Our offensive line did a great job in helping move the chains and allowing us to do some things that opened up a few passes for us as well.”
The offensive line also did a good job of controlling the game and making Mooreville press when it finally regained possession. And even by going to an up-tempo offense at certain points of Friday’s contest – the Aggies were quick to line up on the ball and snap it after consecutive running plays – the Aggies still chewed up plenty of clock.
“Our eighth play of the second half came with a minute, 36 seconds to go in the game,” Austin said. “They controlled the clock all night.”
Not including field-goal attempts, punts and point-after tries, the Aggies ran 61 total plays on offense, 21 more than the Troopers. Austin said it was a helpless feeling as a coach when the Aggies continued to run right at his team’s defense and his defensive players couldn’t seem to consistently get off of or shed away from blocks.
It’s perhaps even more frustrating when the Aggies inserted 285-pound, state powerlifting champion Jordan Elam into the backfield on a lengthy drive inside their opponent’s 5 with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
“When we get down inside the red zone, we like to utilize him as a power back because he actually runs well,” Kelly said of his team’s defensive tackle that scored the final touchdown against Mooreville. “He’s a strong kid.”
Solid play on the offensive and defensive lines should win a lot of games for the Aggies this season.
“We’re not going to be able to outrun teams; we gotta outlast teams,” Kelly said of his well-conditioned squad.