Vardaman High head football coach Justin Hollis said his team has been waiting almost an entire year to play Durant.
Hollis’ Rams were demolished at home in last season’s MHSAA Class 1A state semifinal game by the Tigers. Durant won 30-7 in Vardaman on Nov. 27, but wasn’t as fortunate in the 1A championship game, losing 27-26 in overtime to Mount Olive.
The Rams (9-3) will seek redemption tonight in a 1A quarterfinals game at Durant (12-0).
“Our kids are focused and ready to play,” Hollis said on the phone Thursday. “We’ve adopted a ‘first in the world’ mentality. We’re not by any means intimidated by them.
“We’ve been waiting to play them. We’ve been waiting (close to) 365 days to play them.”
Meanwhile, Shannon also wants to get back at a playoff nemesis. The Red Raiders (9-3) host 4A power Noxubee County (12-1) in tonight’s quarterfinals.
The Tigers tormented Chad Cook’s team in the 2008 semifinals, and that loss in Macon is fresh on many of his players’ minds.
“A lot of kids on this team were there in ’08 when they put us out,” said Cook, referring back to his team’s 42-24 loss to the Tigers. “Now, we get a second chance.”
Okolona (11-2) will look to avenge last year’s 14-8 regular-season loss at Smithville with a road quarterfinals playoff victory over the Seminoles tonight. The Chieftains already defeated Smithville once this season, winning 39-7 at home in a Division 1-1A regular-season contest on Oct. 29.
However, that win came against a beat-up Seminoles team that was missing its center, Steve Adams (shoulder), and whose quarterback/running back, Antwune Freeman (knee), and running back, Datrune Freeman (hip flexor; groin), were not at full speed.
“It’s a tough ball team to beat,” Okolona head coach Calvin Aldridge said about the 9-4 Seminoles. “It’s also tough to beat any one team twice in a season, and it’s a whole lot harder to win at their home place.”
Said Smithville head coach Bubba Tacker, “I hope we can keep it close and have a good ballgame, because you never know what will happen in the end.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal