All kickoffs at 7 p.m.
Lafayette (13-0) at New Albany (13-0)
– This week: No. 1 will be playing at No. 2 in this MHSAA Class 4A quarterfinals matchup. The winner will face the winner of tonight’s quarterfinals game between Noxubee County and Shannon in next week’s semifinals.
– Recent history: Haven’t played in the last 3 seasons.
–Lafayette: QB Jeremy Liggins and RB Demarkus Dennis get most of the touches. Liggins has passed for 1,408 yards and 17 TDs, while rushing for 885 yards and 12 TDs. Dennis has rushed for 1,937 yards and 26 TDs. So, if New Albany wants to stops the Commodores’ offense, they have to tackle well, because the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Liggins and the 5-9, 205-pound Dennis will run right at you and not do anything too fancy on offense. Lawrence Zinn, who is 5-9, played the part of Liggins during New Albany’s practices this week. “He simulated Liggins all week and did an outstanding job,” said New Albany head coach Ron Price. “He’s a really athletic kid, but we couldn’t imitate his (Liggins’) size.” Meanwhile, Dennis can be viewed as Bulldogs RBs Kareem Brown and Kelvin Worship combined into one back, says Price. The Bulldogs coach says Dennis has speed like Brown and the power and physical toughness of Worship. … Price said the Commodores seldom give up lengthy gains or touchdowns of 40-plus yards. “They’re scary on defense,” he said. “Even when they make mistakes, they’re athletic enough to get right back in the play. Not too many folks have had success against them.”
– New Albany: Lafayette head coach Anthony Hart said the Bulldogs have good players at every position, both offensively and defensively. “They’re just like us,” said the Lafayette coach. “They’re very similar. They may want to act as they are not as talented, but I see that they’re just as talented as we are. The only difference is their kids are (mostly) seniors and mine are (mainly) juniors. I think their team is a state-championship caliber team. They’re as big as we are – actually, they’re probably bigger than us except for at the quarterback position. They’re the same speed-wise as us.” … Price said his team is healthy and has everybody ready.
Noxubee County (12-1) at Shannon (9-3)
– This week: The Division 4-4 champion Tigers take on a hot Shannon team that is playing as well as it could be playing. The winner gets the Lafayette-New Albany winner in next week’s MHSAA Class 4A semifinals.
– Recent history: Noxubee County defeated the Red Raiders in the 2008 state semifinals, 42-24, in Macon.
– Noxubee County: Although receivers and playmakers Patrick Patterson and Vincent Sanders have graduated, there’s still Terrence Barron to contend with. He is a bit of a different player than both Patterson and Sanders. “They liked to go over the top with Sanders and Patterson,” said Shannon head coach Chad Cook. “With No. 17 (Barron), they like to give him the ball at running back and on short passes. He’s really good at changing directions. He kind of reminds me of Dexter McCluster when he was at Ole Miss: the way he would stop and start. You can’t tackle him (Barron) in space.” … In addition to Barron, the Red Raiders will have to stop 4 or 5 other options the Tigers have. While running the football more this year than previous seasons, Noxubee has been playing 2 QBs, with Deangelo Ballard getting most of the snaps lately. “He makes good decisions with the ball,” Cook said about Ballard. “I haven’t seen him sacked – or hardly any. If a (passing) play breaks down or nothing is open, he will run it and take off.” … Cook described the Tigers defense as being so fast that it seems like they got more than 11 players on the field at one time. He says they have players who weigh 250 pounds and can run well. More times than not, opponents will not get any yards on first down against Noxubee’s defense, noted Cook.
– Shannon: RB Bodarius Taylor has rushed for 1,138 yards and 14 TDs in just 7 games. … QB Legilbert Bogan has thrown for 1,303 yards and 9 TDs. … WR Keyon Lowery has 38 receptions for 766 yards and 4 TDs. … LB Shawn Goree is the team’s leading tackler with 122 stops. … Cook said his team is as healthy as it could be.
Vardaman (9-3)at Durant (12-0)
– This week: The Rams travel to Durant for a rematch of last year’s MHSAA Class 1A semifinal game.
– Recent history: Durant defeated the Rams 30-7 in the 2009 semifinal played at Vardaman.
– Vardaman: The banged-up Rams will limp into Durant without the services of 4 players suffering from ACL injuries and another from a neck injury. “It sounds like ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ (song) with all the injuries,” said Rams head coach Justin Hollis. To make matters worse, RB Chris Armstrong sprained his knee and is out for tonight. … QB Donta Walker has filled in nicely for the injured Cody Jenkins (ACL). Walker has thrown for 1,043 yards and 15 TDs, being picked off just once. He has also rushed for 7 TDs.
– Durant: With having to stop RBs Cortez Frizell and David Hogsett, Hollis said his team is going to “load up the kitchen sink and take it with us. We’ll throw everything we got at them. It will kind of be like Ali-Frazier. We’ll throw all our punches and leave nothing behind. We’ll use everything we can in our playbook on defense. We’ll try our best to stop them. We’ll load up on the run.” Hollis described Frizell as being more of a power back who lowers his shoulder to grind out yards and doesn’t have 4.4 speed but is fast enough to wreak havoc. Hogsett, on the other hand, is the speedster who, if you miss one tackle, can take it to the house. … According to Hollis, Durant’s defensive line is big and physical. “They don’t blitz a whole lot mainly because they don’t have to,” Hollis added. “They don’t have to because they got 5 or 6 guys who can control the box.” With many of those Durant players having to play both offense and defense, Hollis said his team will try to get them tired quickly.
Belmont (12-0) at Aberdeen (12-1)
– This week: Belmont remained unbeaten last week with its 3A second-round playoffs win against Eastside, 49-26. Aberdeen continued its march through the postseason with a 42-0 win against Leland. This week’s quarterfinals winner advances to the state semifinals against the Winona-Water Valley winner.
– Recent history: The two schools have not played in the last five years.
– Belmont: The Cardinals’ deceptive Wing T offense features three 1,000-yard running backs – Jordan Powell (1,239 yards, 14 TD), Dustin Poole (1,113 yards, 22 TD) and Cody Sartain (1,158 yards, 21 TD). … QB Case Smith has passed for just 210 yards, 5 TD. … “You don’t see it every week; you see it once a year,” Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan said of the Wing T. “It’s hard to prepare and get ready for something in three days. It puts you in a bind.” … Belmont has scored 92 points, the same as Aberdeen, in two playoff games.
– Aberdeen: The only points the Bulldogs have given up in two playoff games is the six surrendered to Kossuth in the first round. … Aberdeen has averaged 44.6 points per game. … In last week’s win, TE/DE Channing Ward caught a 4-yard TD pass while RB Victor Hodges had TD jaunts of 4 and 7 yards. He finished with 160 yards rushing. … Brandon Smith had a 67-yard interception return for a TD while teammate Johnny McMillian returned a pick 25 yards for a TD in the second half. … On the negative side, Aberdeen was called for 143 yards in penalties against Leland.
East Webster (13-0) at Calhoun City (13-0)
– This week: East Webster advanced to this week’s 2A state quarterfinals with a 38-12 victory against JFK. Calhoun City defeated Simmons 48-6 last week in its second-round game. The winner advances to the semifinals against the Coahoma County-West Bolivar winner.
– Recent history: East Webster defeated Calhoun City 28-14 last season in the second round of the state playoffs.
– East Webster: RB Demetrius O’Briant has 147 rushes for 1,355 yards, 15 TD in the Wolverines’ Power I attack. … FB Timakis Bell has 153 rushes for 1,165 yards, 16 TD. … QB Ledrick Patterson has passed for 568 yards, 13 TD, 5 INT, and rushed for 871 yards, 14 TD. “He makes them click,” Calhoun City coach Perry Liles said of Patterson. “He runs the option as well as anybody I’ve seen.” … DT Lilton Vance leads team with 96 tackles.
– Calhoun City: The Wildcats look to senior QB J.R. Jennings to produce points. The four-year starter has completed 140 of 191 passes for 2,299 yards, 27 TD and 5 INT. He’s added 316 yards rushing and 7 TD. “He controls the game on that side of the ball,” Liles said. … RB Avery Hill has rushed for 811 yards, 13 TD. … WR Demarius Howard has 57 receptions for 961 yards, 11 TD. … LB Marcquez Jones leads team with 63 tackles.
West Point (11-1) at Oxford (9-3)
– This week: West Point knocked off Jackson Provine 36-14 last week to advance to the 5A state quarterfinals. Oxford defeated Pearl, 49-14, on the road to advance. The winner will play in next week’s semifinals against New Hope or Ridgeland.
– Recent history: West Point beat Oxford 22-20 in the regular season – Oct. 8 – in West Point. The Green Wave defeated the Chargers in 2006 and ‘07 in playoff games.
– West Point: The last meeting between the two 5A powers was a war. The Green Wave needed a failed 2-point conversion attempt by Oxford to win. “The game was physically and mentally draining,” West Point coach Chris Chambless said. … QB Justin Cox rushed for 178 yards, including a 92-yard TD scamper, and passed for 87 yards in the first meeting against the Chargers. “He killed us the last time,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. … West Point’s defense held Provine to 200 yards total offense last week, however the Green Wave has given up four TDs in the playoffs.
– Oxford: QB Guy Cameron Billups has completed 172 of 274 passes for 2,788 yards, 32 TD, 5 INT. In the Chargers’ last three games, all victories, he has completed 44 of 51 passes for 749 yards and 11 touchdowns. “He’s smart,” Chambless said. “He knows where the ball’s going before the snap.” Billups passed for 303 yards and 2 TD in the first game against West Point. … Oxford’s Hill said his team is excited about the opportunity to host the Green Wave in a rematch. “Any time we play it means something,” he said. “West Point’s a good football team, a good program. We know to win a state championship we have to go through them. Hopefully, we’ll play hard and get the job done.”
Smithville (9-4) at Okolona (11-2)
– This week: It’s a rematch of Division 1-1A opponents for the rights of a North State appearance.
– Recent history: Okolona won the regular season game on Oct. 12, 39-7 to clinch the division tile. Smithville won the Oct. 30, 2009 game, 14-8 at home to win the division.
– Okolona: Okolona quarterback Jordan Ivy ran wild in the regular season matchup, totaling 185 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns…Okolona had no problems in its playoff opener against Shaw, a 40-6 win…The Chieftains are led on the ground by Everett Brooks with 878 yards on 88 carries and 13 TDs…Fred Ward has 10 scores and 691 yards on 82 carries, while Ivy and FB Martavis Ford have combined for 1,235 yards and another 18 TDs…Ford has a team-high 80 tackles…Okolona hasn’t lost since a 61-6 setback at Aberdeen on Sept. 17.
– Smithville: In the regular-season loss, Smithville was without a key lineman in center Steve Adams, while backs Datrune and Antwune Freeman played but were both nursing leg injuries…Both Freemans have gone over 1,000 yards, Antwune with 1,164 and 15 TDs on 129 carries, Datrune with 1,012 and seven TDs on 151 carries. QB Austin Spann has completed 58 of 132 passes for 948 yards and 14 TDs…Defensively, Turner Sanderson has a team-high 88 tackles… Adams and both Freemans will play tonight. … Okolona beat Coffeeville 28-21 in OT. Smithville coach Bubba Tacker says the plan is simple. “Try to beat them,” he said. “We’ve just got to try to slow them down. Offensively, they’ve got so much speed, so many athletes everywhere. We’ve got to play a sound fundamental game, play assignment football, be where we’re supposed to be and everybody do their jobs.”
FRIDAY’S MHSAA PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
(7 p.m. kickoffs)
Class 6A North
South Panola at Olive Branch
Madison Central at Northwest Rankin
Class 6A South
Gulfport at Meridian
Brandon at Oak Grove
Class 5A North
West Point at Oxford
New Hope at Ridgeland
Class 5A South
Vancleave at West Jones
Wayne County at Brookhaven
Class 4A North
Lafayette at New Albany
Noxubee County at Shannon
Class 4A South
Mendenhall at St. Stanislaus
North Pike at Forrest County AHS
Class 3A North
Belmont at Aberdeen
Winona at Water Valley
Class 3A South
Hazlehurst at Forest
Tylertown at Jefferson County
Class 2A North
East Webster at Calhoun City
Coahoma County at West Bolivar
Class 2A South
Mize at Lumberton
Taylorsville at Bassfield
Class 1A North
Okolona at Smithville
Vardaman at Durant
Class 1A South
Mount Olive at Nanih Waiya
Cathedral at Dexter
John Wilbert and Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal.