Ripley: Saving the best for last?

The Ripley High football team may not have had its most ideal season up to now, but in the minds of their second-round playoff opponent, the Tigers are still the Tigers of old.
Ripley enters this Friday’s MHSAA Class 3A second-round playoff game against Aberdeen with a 6-5 record after finishing third in its division and winning a first-round playoff game at Leflore County.
The Tigers have finished either first or second in Division 1-3A the past five seasons. Many expected Ripley to do the same this season – including the Daily Journal, which had the Tigers second, behind Aberdeen, in the Class 3A area rankings to start the season.
“Just from watching them on film, they look like the Ripley of last year and the Ripley of the last four or five years,” said Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan, whose team travels to Ripley on Friday. “They’re really talented offensively and defensively and on special teams.
“Ripley’s going to be Ripley.”
The Tigers could be saving their best football until now, when it counts most. They suffered injuries to several starters early in the season and had near misses against division foes Corinth and Booneville.
“We have great respect for that ball team up there and the coaches,” said Duncan, fully expecting Friday’s matchup to be a huge challenge for his team. “They do a heckuva job.”
Another Class 3A second-round matchup to keep an eye on is the Daily Journal’s top-ranked 3A team, Booneville, playing at third-ranked Nettleton, which survived Friday’s trip to the Delta with a come-from-behind 25-24 win over Cleveland East Side.
Except for his team’s game against South Pontotoc, Nettleton coach Jack Clark said, “I don’t know if we have played an easy game. Right now, every other game we have had has come down to the fourth quarter. That’s a good feeling, possibly, to have during the playoffs.”
The Booneville-Nettleton winner takes on the winner of the Water Valley-Belmont game in the quarterfinals. The Aberdeen-Ripley winner faces the Leland-Charleston winner in the North’s other quarterfinal.
The state’s largest and smallest schools will start their playoffs on Friday.
Among the games of note:
Class 6A: Starkville (4-7)visits nationally ranked Madison Central(11-0).
Class 5A:West Point (10-1) entertains Canton (4-7).
Class 1A: Smithville (10-0) is home against Coffeeville (7-4).

Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or john.wilbert@djournal.com

John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal