Stakes raised for area teams in high school football quarterfinals

You can win 7-0 or 52-44 in the playoffs. This time of year, all that matters to teams is that you win.
As the MHSAA football quarterfinals kick off Friday, area teams will find themselves matched up against familiar postseason opponents.
Shannon will host Lafayette County, a team it beat 7-0 in last year’s Class 4A quarterfinals game in Oxford.
Shannon’s Division 1-4A foe, Itawamba AHS, will host Noxubee County, a team that has eliminated the Indians from the postseason the past two seasons. The Indians didn’t have as easy of a time as they would have liked against Center Hill in Friday’s second-round game.
“We came out and got a couple of early scores, then they kind of put the clamps on us,” said IAHS head coach Jamie Mitchell, whose top-ranked team improved to 12-0 with Friday’s 21-7 win. “Their defense played very well, but our guys found a way to win and that’s all that matters.
“It’s November, and we’ll take W’s however we can get them. We’re two wins away from Jackson, and we gotta get these guys focused and ready to take care of business at home next week.”
One team finds itself in uncharted waters: Belmont High has never been to the quarterfinals in any classification, but with Friday’s thrilling 27-20 overtime win over Water Valley, the Cardinals will play a Class 3A quarterfinals game at Booneville on Friday.
Another area 3A team, Aberdeen, has a tough task ahead of them when it hosts undefeated Charleston (13-0) in the North’s other quarterfinal contest. Aberdeen looked impressive in holding Ripley – a team that scored 52 points in its first-round win against LeFlore County – to just two late fourth-quarter scores
Meanwhile, Baldwyn will be hosting another undefeated team, West Bolivar (13-0), in the Class 2A quarterfinals, and East Webster will be doing the same when 13-0 Ackerman comes to town.
In Class 1A, Okolona will travel to Division 2-1A power Durant (11-1), while Vardaman will also be on the road when it takes on Coffeeville, which eliminated the Daily Journal’s top-ranked small school, Smithville, on Friday night.
Second-ranked large school West Point welcomes a tough Pearl team in a Class 5A quarterfinal this Friday.
Contributing: Scotty Nichols, Itawamba County Times
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or john.wilbert@djournal.com

John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal