High School Football: Week 11 Top Games

(All kickoffs at 7 p.m.)

Bruce (4-7)at East Webster (11-0)
– This week: Bruce head coach James Ray says there’s no doubt that East Webster is a top 3 team in the state. “You finish fourth in the division and you don’t get an easy route,” Ray said about playing the Daily Journal’s second-ranked small school in the first round of the MHSAA Class 2A playoffs.
– Recent history: East Webster blew out the Trojans 53-15 at home on Sept. 17, and also won last year’s meeting at Bruce, 22-12.
– Bruce: The Trojans should already be in playoff mode after playing top-ranked Calhoun City “tooth and nail” in last week’s regular-season finale, in which Ray described his team’s 19-13 loss to the Wildcats. … East Webster head coach Jimmy Carden expects a completely different game tonight than their team’s regular-season meeting in September. “They had five turnovers,” he said. “We scored off most of their turnovers, including a pick-six, and took advantage of a short field.” … According to Carden, Bruce tends to line up in many different formations, making it difficult for a defense to prepare for them and to line up in the right spot during the game. The East Webster coach added that the Trojans like to run a lot of traps and counters and do a good job of running the ball. … Ray said there’s no major injuries to report on his team and there’s just the normal “bumps and bruises for this time of year. Everyone’s on board and ready to go.”
– East Webster: Ray said the Wolverines don’t throw the ball as well as Calhoun City, but then again, they don’t need to. The Bruce coach described East Webster as being primarily a running team. “They line up in a two-tight, power I and run the veer,” he added. Meanwhile, Carden expects Bruce to play them in either a 6-man or 7-man front, loading up in the box like they did in September’s game, in attempt to limit his team’s rushing attack. … According to Ray, the Wolverines feature “huge offensive and defensive lines” similar to Calhoun City. “Their front 7 is pretty big, their linemen and linebackers,” Ray said. “Their secondary is decent. As far as being as good in the secondary as Calhoun City, we’ll find out Friday.” … East Webster FB Timakis Bell (leg) should be ready to go come tonight’s game, says Carden. He had a MRI on Monday.

Kossuth (5-6) at Aberdeen (10-1)
– This week: Being a huge underdog entering tonight’s MHSAA Class 3A first-round playoff game, Kossuth head coach Pete Seago says his team is going to play hard and see what happens against the Daily Journal’s top-ranked team. “It’s going to be a big challenge, a good challenge for us,” the Aggies coach said.
– Recent history: Haven’t played in the last 3 seasons.
– Aberdeen: Seago said his team hasn’t seen a team similar to Aberdeen all year. “They seem pretty solid,” the Kossuth coach said. “I don’t see many weaknesses, and speed covers up any weaknesses. They’re pretty good across the board. They’re so athletic that it’s hard to say anything bad about them.” … Seago said he thinks the Bulldogs’ rushing attack has been so successful that they haven’t really had to throw a whole lot this year. Although, he added, they are certainly capable of opening up their passing game, such as was the case vs. Houston this season. … DL Channing Ward, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 255 pounds, has been lining up as a tight end on offense and has been a good receiver in big spots of games, according to Seago. … NG Jordan Gathings (knee) and left OG Damian Walker (concussion) have returned from their injuries and should be healthy enough to play a lot in tonight’s game.
– Kossuth: Aberdeen head coach Chris Duncan says the Aggies are big up front defensively and are good against the run. “We may have to throw the ball a little more against them,” said the Bulldogs coach. … On offense, Duncan says the Aggies are a physical running team that lines up in the I formation. RBs Wesley Davis and Justin Whitaker lead the Aggies’ rushing attack. … Seago says his team doesn’t have any major injuries, but the normal “nicks and bruises” for this time of year.

North Pontotoc (6-4) at Lafayette (11-0)
– This week: A high-scoring offense will meet a shutdown defense in Oxford tonight for a MHSAA Class 4A first-round playoff game. North Pontotoc is averaging 39.3 points per game, while Lafayette is holding teams to 9 a game. That lights-out defense coincides nicely with an offense averaging more than 40 ppg. Not to mention, the top-ranked Commodores will be facing a Vikings team that is surrendering 28.1 points per contest.
– Recent history: Haven’t played in the last 3 seasons.
– North Pontotoc: Vikings head coach Brian Sutton says his team has been able to mix up the run and pass consistently this year, and that’s why his team is scoring a lot of points. “When they put more people in the box, we’re able to throw the football,” Sutton said about facing opposing teams’ defenses. “We’re able to do both. We’re not hitting long passes. We’re possession people. We move it downfield. We move the chains, and the thing is that we have multiple guys touching the football. You can’t just key on one guy; we make people key on 2 or 3 people.” … Lafayette head coach Anthony Hart has been particularly impressed by the play of QB Brandon Bailey and RBs Mitchell Cunningham and Shemiah Carter, among others. “There’s some more players that I’m not mentioning,” Hart said, “and their offensive line plays hard.” … On defense, Hart says the Vikings move around and stunt a lot, which usually presents problems for an offense. “They are not a terrible defensive team,” the Lafayette coach said. “They have had some bad luck.” Yes, the Vikings have, losing 4 defensive starters due to injury.
– Lafayette: Sutton said the Commodores like to run dive plays with RB Demarkus Dennis, and QB Jeremy Liggins is also a very effective runner. Sutton compared Dennis – who has rushed for 1,683 yards and 23 TDs – to Shannon RB Bodarius Taylor. “He runs up in there looking for little creases and does a good job of finding those creases,” Sutton said about Dennis. “We gotta contain him and make him bounce a little bit around.” … Sutton has been preaching to his defensive players this week the importance of being in proper position to make tackles and to be able to prevent cutbacks on the backside of plays, as Lafayette can burn you if you miss a tackle or over-pursue a play. … Hart said Liggins (ankle), who’s been held out for most of his team’s last 2 games, should be well enough to play plenty in tonight’s game. “He hasn’t run the football in a while,” the Lafayette coach said.

South Pontotoc (4-7) at Belmont (10-0)
– This week: South Pontotoc enters tonight’s MHSAA Class 3A first-round playoff game having lost its last 3 games, while Belmont has not lost a game in almost a year (to Booneville on Nov. 20, 2009). The Cougars are ranked fourth and the Cardinals second in the Daily Journal Class 3A rankings.
– Recent history: Belmont has won big in the team’s last two meetings: 42-14 in Springville on Sept. 17 and 45-7 in Belmont last year.
– South Pontotoc: The Cougars run a spread offense and throw to set up the run, says head coach Roger Chism. … Belmont head coach Kerry Moody said Cougars QB Wesley Barefield is “able to deliver the football to basically anywhere on the field.” The Cardinals coach added that Barefield is also a pretty good runner. … Moody has also been impressed with South Pontotoc RB Deonte Dillworth, who has rushed for 706 yards and 8 TDs on 95 carries (7.43 ypc). Dillworth returned the opening kickoff of last week’s game vs. Winona 80 yards for a TD. … The Cougars have been battling a bad stomach virus and step throat, in addition to a few sore ankles, and Chism hopes to have those players ready for tonight’s game.
– Belmont: Chism says the Cardinals run the wing-T buck sweep until they get tired of running it. He added that the Cardinals are capable of throwing the ball when they have to, getting the ball out to their big tight end, Austin Ramsey (6-2, 190), and WRs on waggles and verticals. … The South Pontotoc coach said Belmont is similar to Water Valley in the way they run the ball. “They’re physical up front and got guys that can run, too,” Chism said about Belmont. … Moody said Booneville blitzed some in the second half of last week’s game, but his team being held to just 16 total yards for most of the second half had to do with not sustaining blocks. … On defense, Chism said Belmont is big and physical. “They don’t make mistakes and are where they’re supposed to be. They’re also good tacklers,” he added. … Moody said he isn’t anticipating any of his players to miss tonight’s game due to illness or injury.

Tupelo (7-2) at Olive Branch (6-4)
– This week: Tupelo, 4-2 in Division 1-6A play, can punch a ticket to the state playoffs with a win in its final regular season game. The Golden Wave is coming off a 41-0 win against Horn Lake. Olive Branch, which has won seven of the last eight games in the series, is also 4-2 in league action. If Tupelo loses, it could possibly qualify for the postseason with wins by Horn Lake and Columbus. “We’ve got to win,” THS coach David Bradberry said. “I’m not sure the other two things will happen.”
– Recent history: Olive Branch defeated Tupelo 35-13 last season. Tupelo’s last win was in 2003.
– Tupelo: RB Ashton Shumpert, a sophomore, has rushed for 1,221 yards, 14 TD in his first season with the Golden Wave. … QB Luke Hobson has completed 50 of 98 passes for 1,013 yards, 9 TD. … WR Terrell Pinson has 23 receptions for 638 yards, 8 TD. … Tupelo’s offense averages 309 yards per game. … NG Joey Tine has recorded 52 tackles, 6 for losses and 2 sacks. … DE P.J. Jones has 65 tackles, 9 for losses, 6 sacks and 25 hurries. … DE Ben Aldridge recorded a team-high 10 tackles in last week’s win against Horn Lake.
– Olive Branch: QB Todd Mays has completed 83 of 141 passes for 1,290 yards, 14 TD. He passed for 3 TD in last week’s win against Columbus. May also has 339 yards rushing and 6 TD. … RB Courtney Gladney has rushed for 438 yards, 5 TD. … “The key is being able to keep their offense off the field,” THS coach David Bradberry said. “You want to limit them as much as you can.” … LB Leonard Pegues has recorded a team-high 70 tackles. … DB Jalen Collins has committed to LSU.

Hamilton (5-6) at Calhoun City (11-0)
– This week: The winner of this Class 2A state playoffs opening round game will advance to the second round against the Broad Street-Simmons winner. Calhoun City has rolled into the postseason while Hamilton closed its regular season with back-to-back wins against Ackerman and J.Z. George.
– Recent history: These teams have not played each other during the last five seasons.
– Calhoun City: The host Wildcats have registered three shutouts this season, including one against Walnut, 37-0. … QB J.R. Jennings has completed 114 of 157 passes for 1,799 yards, 19 TD, 4 INT. “He has a lot of athletic ability. He’s the leader of that team,” Hamilton coach Ray Weeks said. Jennings was the starting QB as a sophomore when the Wildcats lost the 1A state title game to Puckett in 2008. … WR Demarius Howard has 43 catches, 640 yards, 7 TD. … RB Avery Hill has rushed for 739 yards, 11 TD. He rushed for a season-high 162 yards against Walnut Oct. 22. … RB Lavarious Vardnado has added 560 yards rushing, 9 TD. … LB Marcquez Jones leads team with 51 tackles.
– Hamilton: Weeks credits his team’s strong finish to the return of a few previously injured players. One of those is LB/FB Cole Gill. “Having him back has helped us a lot,” Weeks said. … QB Zarratt Sims, a junior, gives the Lions a run-pass threat similar to the Wildcats’ Jennings. … RB Cojuante McMillian, a 5-10, 175 junior, has rushed for 600 yards.

Senatobia (6-4) at Shannon (7-3)
– This week: The winner of this Class 4A state playoffs opening round game will advance to the second round against the Amory-Greenwood winner. Shannon defeated IAHS 42-21 last week to clinch a host spot in the first round. The Red Raiders have won seven of their last eight games. Senatobia lost to Center Hill, 14-0, in its final regular season game.
– Recent history: These teams have not played each other during the last five seasons.
– Senatobia: QB Tyler Pirtle has completed 42 of 99 passes for 541 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT. He has rushed for 316 yards, 6 TD and caught 3 passes for 37 yards. … RB Quintavius Burdette has rushed for 1,235 yards, 16 TD and has three 200-yard games this season. … LB Marquel Jackson averages 8.9 tackles per game to lead the team.
– Shannon: RB Bodarius Taylor has rushed for 746 yards, 9 TD, including a 27 for 194-yard effort in last week’s win against IAHS. … QB Legilbert Bogan has completed 51 of 169 passes for 965 yards, 7 TD, 7 INT since returning to the Red Raiders’ lineup. … WR Keyon Lowery has caught 32 passes for 614 yards, 4 TD. … LB Shawn Goree leads team with 103 tackles, an average of 10.3 per game.

West Lowndes (6-4) at Baldwyn (6-5)
– This week: The winner of this Class 2A state playoffs opening round game will advance to the second round against the O’Bannon-Coahoma County winner. Baldwyn defeated Mantachie 35-17 last week for the Bearcats’ fourth consecutive win. West Lowndes lost 62-14 last week in its final regular season game.
– Recent history: These teams have not played each other during the last five seasons.
– West Lowndes: QB Gerald Sanders has completed 56 of 101 passes for 771 yards, 5 TD, 7 INT. … RB Antonio Wilson has rushed for 1,593 yards, 11 TD. He rushed for 245 yards Oct. 8 against J.Z. George. Wilson also has 21 receptions for 179 yards, 1 TD to lead team. … DB Trevor Stowers has 133 tackles. … LB Rodrick Johnson has 114 tackles.
– Baldwyn: RB/LB Tyler Estes has 177 carries for 1,102 yards rushing, 17 TD. He had a 196-yard effort and scored 3 TD Oct. 15 against Bruce. Estes also leads Bearcats on defense with 129 tackles. … QB Walker Wildmon has completed 50 of 91 passes for 584 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT. … WR Seth Swinney has 23 catches for 312 yards, 4 TD while WR Reggie Patterson has 20 receptions for 281 yards, 3 TD. … DL Parrish Huddleston, a transfer from IAHS, has recorded 92 tackles, including 15 stops against Mantachie.

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