Neither coach is expecting the other to do anything much differently than he did the last time. But one coach is hoping the outcome is different.
Winona’s Ken Chandler watched as his Tigers lost 38-14 at home on Oct. 1 to visiting Aberdeen in a Division 2-3A game.
Friday, the two meet again, this time in the MHSAA Class 3A North finals in Winona for the right to play in next weekend’s state championship.
“I don’t think he’ll try to do things he’s not used to doing,” Chandler said of Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan. “I think he’ll feed their good back and try to get the ball to Channing Ward like he did here before. And his quarterback (Desmond Jones) throws the ball good enough that you’ve got to stay back and that puts you in a bad position because their running back is so good.”
In the first game, Ward, a highly recruited defensive tackle, caught three passes for 58 yards and back Victor Hodges carried the ball 31 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns.
Offensively for Winona, Ole Miss-committed back Chief Brown was held to 52 yards on nine carries, 45 on one run.
“We expect them to do the things they did last time,” Duncan said. “They’re a good football team. It just kind of boils down to who makes plays when, who makes the least mistakes and who plays hardest. We know we’re in for a battle. We do know that.”
Brown is the workhorse for the Tigers (12-2). He has 1,926 yards and 23 touchdowns on 184 carries. Junior quarterback Nick Glover has 730 yards on 126 carries.
“We had a real good game defensively last time, made a lot of plays on him,” Duncan said of Brown. “He’s a good player, a player that will hurt you if he gets in the open. He’s a hard runner and a smart football player. You’ve got to put a helmet on him and keep a lot of people around him.”
Winona averages 41.5 points per game and allows 20.1. Aberdeen is scoring 44.1 points and giving up eight.
Aberdeen hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 14 points all season and is led in tackles by Ward, with 110 tackles. The Bulldogs are 13-1 and haven’t lost since a season-opening loss to Class 6A Columbus. Ward also has 17 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. Offensively, Hodges has 1,856 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Aberdeen is 1-1 at Winona under Duncan, who said after Friday’s win against Belmont that it’s definitely tough to beat a team twice in one season. Chandler says that isn’t a factor this time of year. Aberdeen beat Winona twice in 2008.
“We just know so many things that we have to do better than we did in the regular season game,” Chandler said. “We didn’t tackle very well and we don’t really look at it as playing the same team because it’s playoffs. It’s different and the stakes are much higher.”
Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal