By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
ABERDEEN – Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan and Forest coach Jud Boswell once wore the same jerseys as teammates at Delta State.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, they’ll be on opposite sidelines at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson when their teams – Aberdeen (14-1) and Forest (14-0) – play for the Class 3A state championship.
“He was a good ballplayer and he’s a good hard-nosed coach,” Duncan said. “I know how he plays and his kids play like he played.”
The 2008 state-runner up to Baldwyn in Class 2A, Forest has pitched nine shutouts and only two teams have scored double figures – 12 points by Simmons was the most, in the Aug. 20 classic game.
Aberdeen, last year’s state runner-up, has won 14 straight and has pitched four shutouts, and hasn’t allowed an opponent more than 14 points.
“It’s really hard to get to this point in the year,” Duncan said. “It’s a grind on the kids. I think (this year) we’re a whole lot more physical on both sides of the football.
“Forest is very, very athletic. We’ve got our hands full.”
The two team’s offenses are nothing to scoff at. Aberdeen has posted 42.9 points per game, while Forest scores 39.4.
“I expect a very physical game,” Boswell said. “On film they look great. They don’t have any weaknesses. We’re just going to have to be more physical Saturday.”
Both teams have high profile players, the highest being Forest receiver Josh Pinkston and Aberdeen tackle Channing Ward. Ward not only has offers from Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, Kentucky, Alabama and Memphis, he also has 119 tackles, 19 for loss and 13 sacks.
The younger brother of former NFL receiver Todd Pinkston, Pinkston’s offers include Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Alabama, Mississippi State, Memphis and UAB. He has nine touchdowns, with five receiving on 11 catches for 350 yards. The eye-popping number is his 31.82 yards per catch average.
“First of all, it’s going to be 22 athletes on the field. They’ve got some great athletes and we do to,” Boswell said. “Ward and Pinkston are both high-profile players, but it should be a great, great ballgame.”
Jonthan Warnsley leads Forest’s ground game. He has rushed for 649 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Matthew Evans has thrown for 1,675 yards on 84 of 182 with 24 touchdowns and only three picks.
Defensively, the Bearcats have gotten 131 tackles and 15 sacks from 6-foot, 220-pound junior lineman Randell Boyd, one of four players with more than 100 tackles.
Aberdeen can throw its own numbers around. Running back Victor Hodges has rushed for 2,033 yards and 34 touchdowns.
Quarterback Desmond Jones has completed 93 of 154 passes for 1,143 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 picks.
Defensively, junior linebacker Johnny McMillian has 110 tackles, 10 for loss and five sacks.
Boswell said he too expects the Bulldogs to play like Duncan did as a Statesman. “He was very much a competitor,” Boswell said. “I hope my kids play like I played and I hope Duncan’s don’t play like he did.”