By Brandon Speck
It’s like a football revival in Mantachie these days. The Mustangs are still playing football – winning football – in mid-November.
The coach, Lynn Moore, came in spreading a message of hope two years ago and his congregation is steadily growing.
“It’s kind of a big deal,” Moore said.
A big enough deal that the Itawamba County community held a rally on Thursday for the team, which had not hosted a playoff game since 1988. That ended Friday, when the Mustangs (9-3) beat visiting Strayhorn to open the MHSAA Class 2A playoffs.
That was the team’s first-ever home playoff opener. Friday, Mantachie goes to West Bolivar for a second-round game.
Mantachie’s second-place run in Division 1-2A has been a surprise to many, but not to Moore.
“We started out the year believing that. That was the goal,” Moore said. “Our goal was to win the division. We really thought we had a chance to do that. Baldwyn had other thoughts about that, too.”
A road win Friday would mean 10 wins on the season, the highest total for the team since the playoff system came into play in 1981.
Moore said after the division loss at Baldwyn, the Mustangs recommitted and ventured to see how many consecutive wins they could reel off. The current answer is five.
Mantachie went 5-7 last season in Class 3A, including a first-round playoff loss at eventual North champ Charleston.
Quarterback Dustin Carrell made sure that didn’t happen this season. He ran for a pair of touchdowns Friday and threw three more in a 41-14 win.
Mantachie trailed 14-12 at the half, but scored 22 in the third quarter and pitched a second-half shutout.
“One of our goals was to host the first round of the playoffs,” Moore said. “We believed coming out of spring practice we could do that.”