Aberdeen, ranked No. 2 in the Daily Journal's Class 3A poll, travels to top-ranked and unbeaten Booneville on Friday to determine the North's representative in the Dec. 5 championship game in Jackson.
Booneville coach Jim Drewry said the Bulldogs will be the biggest challenge to show up on his team's schedule.
"I feel that we'll play probably the strongest team we've played on our schedule," Drewry said. "I know from tapes and everything that they are well-coached, have tremendous speed and discipline, and they've just got a fine football team."
Aberdeen (12-2) has won 11 consecutive games and is in the state semifinals for the second straight season, last year losing at eventual state champion Louisville.
The Blue Devils (13-0) aren't too bad themselves, said Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan, whose team had to beat another unbeaten team, visiting Charleston, last week to advance.
"They're 13-0. You don't get that way by no reason," Duncan said. "They're a good ball club to make it that far. I don't know what everybody is looking at on film, but they look pretty doggone good to me. I think we're going to have to play our best ballgame to stay on the field with them. If we don't, we're going to get embarrassed."
Aberdeen is led by quarterback Aaron Andrews' 27 touchdown passes and back Jamerson Love's 2,000-plus yards of offense and 24 touchdowns.
Drewry says it's the Bulldogs' defense that you have to watch out for.
"They're bad underrated," he said. "Their defense goes to the football the best of any team I've seen. They usually have six or eight people around the football. Against Charleston, I thought it was Aberdeen's defense that really won the ballgame for them."
Booneville's key said Drewry is to keep the ball out of Aberdeen's hands, a task he'll lay heavily on the shoulders of running back Bo Brown, who has rushed for 1,217 yards and scored 22 touchdowns.
"You try to keep the ball away from them and that's hard to do with their defense," Drewry said. "Their defense is playing well, but they're the most explosive offensive ball club that I've seen in a long time. They put points on the board and put points on the board quickly."
Drewry, 78, has 346 career wins and is Mississippi's all-time winningest coach. One of his 156 losses came to Aberdeen, 14-12 in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. Booneville is 7-0 in North title games under Drewry and has three state titles, all under Drewry. Aberdeen, meanwhile, in its third year under Duncan, is looking for its first state appearance.
"We've played on Thanksgiving the last two years and we hadn't won one yet," Duncan said. "We've had a decent week of practice, not great, a lot of distractions on Thanksgiving week. We've got our work cut out for us no doubt."