NEMS High School Playoff Previews

Madison Central (13-0) at South Panola (12-1)

This week: The state’s top powers clash in Batesville in the MHSAA state semifinals. MC reached this game with playoff wins against Starkville (63-27) and Olive Branch (54-23). South Panola has beaten NW Rankin (54-10) and Clinton (35-0) in the postseason. The winner advances to the state championship game at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. Ocean Springs (11-2) and Oak Grove (10-2) play in the other semifinal.
Recent history: South Panola defeated Madison Central 24-21 last season in the state semifinals in Madison. The Tigers have won seven straight North state titles.
Madison Central: MC’s major concern is can it handle the speed and athleticism it will face against the Tigers? … QB Peyton Johnson is the wildcard for the Jaguars. He has passed for 1,976 yards and 26 TDs and added 348 yards rushing and 12 TDs. … WR Tobias Singleton, a junior, has 57 receptions for 749 yards and 11 TDs. … Jaguars coach Bobby Hall, has won four state championships – three with Amory and one at Louisville.
n South Panola: This program simply knows how to win. Since a 2002 championship game loss, the Tigers have produced a 101-2 record that included an 89-game winning streak. … RB Nick Parker has rushed for 1,461 yards and scored 16 TDs. … QB Lee Self has passed for 1,601 yards and 15 TDs. … WR Nicklos Brassell rivals MC’s Singleton with 59 catches for 1,123 yards and 14 TDs.

West Point (12-1) at New Hope (11-1)

This week: New Hope’s playing for its first ever trip to the state championship game while West Point has won five state titles in its rich history, the last in 2005. New Hope reached this game with playoff wins against Callaway (34-33) and Ridgeland (28-21). West Point has beaten Canton (36-0) and Pearl (34-7) in the postseason. The winner plays at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. Moss Point (11-2) and Wayne County (10-3) play in the other semifinal.
Recent history: In a meeting earlier this season, West Point defeated New Hope 35-8 Oct. 2 in New Hope.
West Point: The Green Wave has a lot of offensive weapons, starting with junior QB Justin Cox. He has completed 56 of 114 passes for 1,053 yards and 10 TDs. … WR Michael Carr is a big-play threat with 32 receptions for 670 yards and 6 TDs. … RBs Lakenderic Thomas and Jacoby Lee have rushed for 984 yards and 783 yards respectively.
New Hope: RB Terrance Dentry, who has rushed for 1,218 yards on 239 carries and 11 TDs, provides the Trojans with plenty of ground game pop. He rushed for 113 yards on 16 carries against West Point in the first game. However, 72 of those came on a third-quarter TD run. … QB Zack Thrasher has completed 86 of 159 passes for 1,102 yards and 9 TDs.

Aberdeen (12-2) at Booneville (13-0)
This week: The cream of the class collides at Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Keenum Stadium. Booneville coach Jim Drewry, who has won a state’s best 346 games during his 50-year coaching career, captured state titles in 1990, 1999 and 2000 with the Blue Devils. Aberdeen reached this game with playoffs win against Independence (40-13), Ripley (42-16) and Charleston (22-15). Booneville has beaten Marshall (59-6), Nettleton (22-20) and Belmont (14-7) in the postseason. The winner plays at 11 a.m. Dec. 5 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. Morton (13-1) and Tylertown (13-0) play in the other semifinal.
Recent history: Aberdeen defeated Booneville 14-12 in Booneville in the opening round of the 3A playoffs in 2007.
n Aberdeen: To beat the Bulldogs, you need to stop QB Aaron Andrews and RB Jamerson Love. Andrews has completed 105 of 191 passes for 2,136 yards and 27 TDs. Love has rushed for 1,349 yards and scored 16 TDs. … WRs Mario Lewis, Rashad Pargo and Erik Buchanon have combined for 101 catches.
Booneville: QB Jeiron Jones has completed 116 of 224 passes for 2,247 yards and 18 TDs. However, he has thrown 14 interceptions. … WRs Tre Welch and Drew Cristo can be counted on in the clutch. Welch has 42 catches for 1,160 yards and 8 TDs while Cristo has 44 grabs for 780 yards and 5 TDs. … RB Bo Brown is a powerful runner with 1,217 yards and 20 TDs.

Lafayette County (13-1) at Itawamba AHS (13-0)
– This week: In a rematch of a regular-season game won by Itawamba AHS, a spot in the MHSAA Class 4A state championship game is on the line. The winner of this game gets the winner of tonight’s St. Stanislaus-Greene County semifinal in next Saturday’s 3 p.m. title game. This game also features two pretty good quarterbacks, Itawamba AHS’ Maikhail Miller and Lafayette’s Jeremy Liggins. “I think they’re both big-old strong quarterbacks who both can throw it,” said IAHS head coach Jamie Mitchell. “You don’t see too many kids their size playing quarterback. You won’t find two big quarterbacks of their size playing against one another on Friday nights. Both are underclassmen. A lot of times you see senior quarterbacks this deep in the playoffs.”
– Recent history: The Indians beat the Commodores 25-19 in a Week 4 regular-season contest on Sept. 11.
– Lafayette County: Liggins, who doesn’t play defense, has had an impact on the Commodores’ D – albeit an indirect one. In 7-on-7 drills and at the start of preseason camp, safety Dominique Price and Liggins were both getting looks at quarterback. Finally, the Lafayette County coaching staff realized that Liggins could be effective as a sophomore starting quarterback and that would in turn allow Price to focus on defense where he best serves the team. “We just decided we needed Dominique on defense,” said Lafayette head coach Anthony Hart. “We installed him (Liggins) at quarterback and it worked out really well for us.” Liggins has passed for 1,312 yards and 16 TDs and rushed for 1,330 yards and 15 TDs. Price, meanwhile, has recorded 66 tackles, intercepted 3 passes, forced 2 fumbles and blocked 2 punts and 1 field goal. He gets some carries from time to time on offense, and has scored 8 rushing TDs on the year. … Price is one of many Commodores players getting the job done on the defensive side of the ball. The Commodores are only allowing 10.2 points per game (a 10th of a point less than Itawamba). Hart says defensive coordinator Eric Robertson “and our defensive coaches do a great job of preparing our guys for the week, whoever we’re going to play. We try to keep our schemes simple and have our guys play fast and hard.” … RB Sam Booker has rushed for 1,035 yards and 8 TDs.
– Itawamba AHS: Miller is 120 of 230 passing for 1,824 yards, 15 TDS and 6 INTs. He has 100 carries for 436 rushing yards and 13 TDs. “All I know is Maikhail Miller is the best quarterback I’ve seen this year,” Hart said when asked if Miller and Liggins are similar in their quarterbacking. “They have some similarities and differences. I feel like Maikhail Miller is going to be a great, great player on this level and the next level.” … Against Lafayette County in September, Mitchell was disappointed with the way his team blocked and struggled to get the running game going. RB Deshawn McGaughy leads the team in rushing with 163 carries for 1,441 yards and 17 TDs. … TE Dillon Mitchell is the team’s leading receiver with 38 catches for 598 yards and 7 TDs.

Durant (12-1) at Vardaman (9-3)
This week: Vardaman has been playing solid football since it’s Oct. 16 home loss to Okolona, winning the next five games, including Friday’s 13-7 overtime win over Coffeeville in the quarterfinals. Durant advanced to the MHSAA Class 1A semifinals with a 28-12 win at home over Okolona in last week’s quarterfinals game. The winner faces the Mount Olive-Sebastopol semifinal winner in the 1A state championship game set for 7 p.m. next Thursday.
Recent history: In 2001, Durant advanced to the 1A state championship game thanks to a 34-14 semifinals win over Vardaman.
Durant: As far as common opponents go for Vardaman and Durant, the Tigers won at Coffeeville, 28-6, in the regular season and then beat Vardaman’s division rivals, Falkner (38-13) and Okolona in the playoffs. The Tigers have outscored those opponents by a combined 100-31. … The Tigers are primarily a running team as evidenced by QB Joffie Hogsett’s 4 passing attempts vs. Okolona last Friday. … RB Cortez Frizell rushed for 275 yards on 41 carries vs. Okolona. He has rushed 227 times for 2,066 yards and 289 TDs this season.
Vardaman: QB Cody Jenkins is 31 of 49 passing for 450 yards, 5 TDS and 2 INTs in just 5 games at QB. Also in those 5 games, he’s rushed 65 times for 300 yards (including negative yards from being sacked) and 6 TDs. Says his head coach Justin Hollis, “Our starting quarterback got hurt and Jenkins really stepped up. He has really developed throwing the ball. He’s a hard-nosed kid, kind of like Gene Ruth from last year’s team. They got the same mold, but Jenkins has the potential to be better than Gene and he’s only a freshman.” … RB/WR/KR Chris Armstrong has 65 carries for 570 rushing yards and 10 TDs. He also has 21 catches for 280 yards and 4 TDs. … Freshman WR Donta Walker has 22 catches for 338 yards and 4 TDS.

NEMS Daily Journal

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