By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Houston won the first playoff game in school history last week. Saltillo made the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Houston now has a home game against Yazoo County in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs while Saltillo goes to Starkville for an opening round Class 5A game.
Classes 1A, 5A and 6A all begin their playoffs tonight.
“They got their first goal out of the way and want to work week-by-week and see how far they can make it,” Houston first-year coach William Cook said. “Yazoo County is big and fast. On defense, they’re very aggressive.”
Both teams enter at 10-2. Houston has probably the most-talked about defender in the state in defensive end Chris Jones, a Mississippi State commit who had 14 tackles last week at Amory.
Houston had eight fumbles in last week’s win, a problem Cook says won’t exist this week. A turnover won it, too, as Denver McQuary’s pick led to quarterback Sharone Wright’s touchdown run.
Saltillo won at Lake Cormorant behind a pair of A.J. Rye touchdowns to grab the final Division 1-5A playoff spot. The Tigers (7-4) go to Starkville (8-3), last season’s state runner-up.
“The scary part is when they walked off the field in the state title game, they lost six starters that didn’t graduate,” Saltillo coach Pat Byrd said. “Speed, speed, speed, and the first thing that catches your eye is the defense. They’ll knock your head off and the quarterback is a race horse.”
Saltillo will wait and see if quarterback Andrew Soper can play after a hit to the head late in last week’s game. Starkville has lost its best wide receiver and a tackle to injury during the season.
In 5A, Canton is at West Point and Provine is at Oxford. In 4A, Itawamba AHS is at Lewisburg, Lafayette is at Noxubee County and Louisville is at New Albany.
In Class 3A, Aberdeen hosts McClain, Byhalia is at Booneville and Ripley goes to Charleston. In 2A, Bruce is at East Webster and Calhoun City goes to JFK. In 1A, Smithville and Vardaman are home to face St. Joe and Coffeeville and Falkner goes to Shaw.