from staff reports
The Meridian Star
Southeast Lauderdale wasn't exactly expected to be playing football in November, but that hasn’t phased the Tigers. After sneaking into the playoffs, they upset the No. 1 seed, Morton, 24-21, on the road.
“It’s a tremendous feeling because I think the only ones that thought we were going to win was us,” Southeast head coach Charles Black said. “We’ve got a feeling of confidence that we can accomplish anything that we put our mind to.”
Southeast shut out the Panthers 14-0 in the first half and fought off a comeback. A long, late field goal by Andrew Benard for 32 yards kept them alive and into the second round.
“We moved that ball really well and got a lot of first downs,” Black said. “Our kicking game played a huge part … it feels great. The kids are happy, I’m happy. We’re trying to make it to the third round and make it that much more sweet.”
This week, The Tigers are back at home and up against a similarly sized Seminary team. Black said they are fast, but assuming they make their tackles and don’t let too many get loose, Friday night should go smoothly.
He also said he thinks one of the biggest advantage will be the game’s location — at Southeast Lauderdale High School. Black was thrilled by the turnout on the road and is hoping packed stands ready to cheer.
Wildcats looking for encore
The Kemper County Wildcats did something last week no Kemper County football team had ever done before — won a playoff game. They topped O’Bannon 36-22 on Friday night to advance to the second round.
Frist year head coach Chris Jones knows they can do more, despite being 9-3 on the season — Kemper’s best record in history.
“It feels good, real good, but I’m not satisfied at all,” he said. “I told the kids from Day 1 that our mission is to get to Jackson … you gotta do the things it takes to get to that championship level and that starts with believing.”
Last week, Willie McCray had a big game. He rushed for a 127 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Quarterback Kelvin Bourrage was 14-of-21 for a 162 yards and ran for two touchdowns on 19 carries for 82 yards.
Jones said those two and playmakers Otis Cross and DJ Clayton will need to all play their best ball yet this week again North Pontotoc. The Vikings are also 9-3 on the season should put up a tough fight Friday night.
“I feel like we’re starting to peak at the right time,” Black said. “They’ve got some good athletes, we’ve got some good athletes … I think we played the best of 3A has to offer [this season]. I think that’ll help us.”
‘Jackets face 2A favorite
The Union Yellowjackets chased away Puckett in the first round of playoffs with a 48-14. Round 2 might not be so easy, not just because it’ll be the battle of the Yellowjackets, but Bassfield is the No. 1 seed.
Head coach Brad Breland knows it’s a touch match up but he isn’t ready to let their reputation and 11-1 record run them out of town before coin flip.
“They’re real good,” he said. “Obviously, they are the No. 1 team in the state. They have a lot of good players, a lot of speed.”
Breland is hoping the same offense shows up for they as they did last week, as the executed better in the win that most of the season, but that won’t be enough.
“This week, we’ll have to fix all our mistakes and play hard, try to play better than we have all year,” he said.
The size match up puts the home team on the smaller side, Breland said, but they make up that in their quickness.
“We are going to control the line of scrimmage, hopefully control the ball, keep possession of the ball as much as we can,” he said. “I thought our line did better last week … they are going to have to play well if we’re going to have any success on offense.”
Quitman faces Dandy Dozen member
Following a sloppy win over Raymond in Round 1 of the 4A state playoffs, the Quitman football team will have to fix its mistakes in a hurry as the Panthers host Purvis at 7 p.m. Friday night in Round 2.
The Tornadoes will bring a potent offense into Quitman as they feature Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen member Markell Pack. The 6-2, 180-pound senior has already verbally committed to play at Florida State University next season. So far he as rushed for 1,170 yards and 14 touchdowns while also catching 35 passes for 528 yards and three touchdowns. He has even completed 5-of-6 passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns out of the quarterback position.
“He does everything for them,” Quitman head coach Steven Bynum said of Pack. “He'll play quarterback, he'll line up at tailback, receiver, slot. They throw him everywhere.”
The Panthers can't just focus on Pack either as Purvis also has a play maker in quarterback Nathan Roseberry. The junior has been a threat on the ground compiling 1,457 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
Despite the challenge, Bynum is confident in his team, especially with a home crowd behind them.
“Any time we play at home I like our chances,” he said. “Our guys are a differen't breed at home in front of the home fans.”
Raiders can clinch title trip
In the loaded Mississippi Association of Independent Schools AAA Division II, Lamar School head coach Mac Barnes said it feels like his Raiders have been in the playoffs all season. Friday night, that playoff atmosphere will be for real as the Raiders host defending champion Heritage Academy at 7 p.m. for a chance to play in the MAIS AAA Division II championship on Nov. 23.
“Our guys this week are focussed,” Barnes said. “They understand what we want them to do. We know it will be an extremely hard ballgame, but I feel good about our guys and the way they are playing.”
Lamar last played for a state championship in 2009 when seniors on this team were still in the eighth grade. Weems said his team is excited for the opportunity to get back to Jackson, especially with the semifinal being in front of a packed home crowd.
“These guys have never played in a state championship game, and coming into the season, that’s something they really wanted to do,” Barnes said. “We thought we should have got there last year. We were very close last year. This year, we really liked our shot. Our really think our guys are ready to play, and I expect them to play well Friday night.”