HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Top teams aiming for title shots

Looking back at the Daily Journal’s preseason area high school football rankings, two teams have, for the most part, held their ground atop their respective classifications.
West Point dropped from its preseason No. 1 large school ranking after a Week 1 loss to Shannon, but has held onto the No. 2 spot since.
The Green Wave enters this week’s Class 5A semifinal against New Hope as a favorite to represent the North in the state championship game.
Aberdeen (12-2) was the Journal’s No. 1 Class 3A team entering the season, but currently finds itself as the No. 2 team heading into its semifinal showdown at top-ranked Booneville on Friday night.
After starting the season ranked third, the Blue Devils (13-0) moved into the top spot soon after and have remained unbeaten.
As far as the small schools go, Baldwyn started the season unranked before being taking over the top spot this month. A season-ending one-point loss to an undefeated West Bolivar team in the quarterfinals shouldn’t remove the Bearcats out of the top ranking to the end the season, unless, maybe, if Vardaman were to win the state Class 1A title.
The Rams (9-3) have a difficult task ahead of them when they host 12-1 Durant in the state 1A semifinals on Friday. Durant beat Okolona 28-12 in the quarterfinals.
As for another team that moved up several spots to gain the Journal’s top billing, Itawamba AHS (13-0) gets a rematch of a regular-season game against Lafayette County this Friday night in a Class 4A semifinal contest in Fulton.
The Indians, ranked fourth to start the year, beat the Commodores, ranked third to start the season, 25-19 on Sept. 11 in Fulton. The Commodores’ loss to Itawamba dropped them to the fourth spot where they’ve been right up until this week.
As young as they might be, the Commodores’ 24-13 quarterfinals win over third-ranked Shannon has propelled them back into the third spot.
“We started nine new starters on offense and 7 or 8 on defense,” coach Anthony Hart said of his Lafayette team. “We’re the same guys, but just a little older.”
Itawamba, in comparison, is a veteran ballclub. However, the Indians still expect Friday’s semifinal game to be a lot different than the teams’ September meeting.
“I know they’re really athletic, really big, and they out-size us and are a little bit faster than us,” said IAHS punter/wide receiver/long snapper Bronson Smith. “But we got a lot of playmakers, too.”

Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or john.wilbert@djournal.com

John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

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