By Blake Long
Special to the Journal
BALDWYN – Levarious Varnado still feels the sting of Calhoun City’s loss in its 2010 state championship game appearance.
Three years later, Varnado has the opportunity to produce better memories inside Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. The senior led the Wildcats to a 31-0 victory at Baldwyn on Friday in the MHSAA Class 2A North finals.
Calhoun City (12-3) advances to face Bassfield for the 2A state title at 3 p.m. on December 6 in Jackson.
“Last time we were there we didn’t give it all we had and came up short,” Varnado said. “We’re just hoping to work hard and go out there and get a win this year.”
Varnado garnered just 54 all-purpose yards versus the Bearcats after rushing for 165 a week ago, but still made a big impact with three touchdowns.
He got the Wildcats on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter on a 19-yard pass from Chakel Gates.
Varnado added scoring runs of 12 and 3 yards, the latter capping Calhoun City’s scoring with 3:17 to play in the contest.
Gates recorded one of the best outings of his career. The Wildcat signal caller was 8-of-15 for 200 yards passing and added 103 yards on the ground.
The junior threw just three times in their quarterfinal matchup against West Bolivar last week.
“We have passed before. It just depends on what the defense gives us,” Calhoun City coach Perry Liles said. “We thought we could get some one-on-one coverages and we did.”
Gates added a short touchdown scamper seconds before the end of the first half to put the Wildcats up 12-0.
Calhoun City extended its advantage to 24-0 after three with a 19-yard run into the end zone by Cartin McBride.
It was Baldwyn’s first scoreless game since a loss to South Delta in the opening round of the 2012 playoffs. The Bearcats (11-4) were held to only 185 yards while the Wildcats racked up 413.
Duke Upshaw left the contest near the end of the third period and did not return. He led Baldwyn with 74 yards rushing on 14 attempts.