Meridian Star

November 6, 2013

MAIS football previews: Raiders looking for 10th win

— Tony Tsoukalas & Sarah Moomaw
The Meridian Star

Raiders looking for 10th win

    A 35-14 win over Parklane Academy last week ensured Lamar School a No .1 seed and a home game in the first round of the playoffs making Friday’s nights game against Oak Forest much less anticipated than earlier in the year.

    While a win or loss against the Yellowjackets wont affect the Raiders’ playoff seeding, head coach Mac Barnes said their is still plenty to play for in Lamar’s regular season finale.

    “Both teams want to win,” Barnes said. “We are still treating it as an important game. If we win, we get to 10 wins. There are not to many seasons that you can get to 10 wins. That’d be a special moment for these kids.

    Though a 10th win would be sweet, Barnes said the game-plan will not be to complex Friday night as Lamar (9-2) might see Oak Forest again in the state championship. Meanwhile, he will be scouting the Yellowjackets to see if how to exploit matchups if the two meet again in the playoffs.

    “When you play a team, you find out their personnel,” Barnes said. “We know what they do, but we just don’t know the kind of athletes they have because we haven’t played them before. We’ll learn a lot Friday night.”

    Lamar will face either Pillow Academy or Heritage Academy in the first round of the MAIS AAA Division II playoffs next week.


KA eyeing a playoff upset

    Kemper Academy knows just how difficult beating undefeated Sharkey-Issaquena Academy will be in the first round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools 8-man playoffs. The Rams fell to the Confederates, 42-26, in Week 1 of the season turing the ball over six times in the contest.

    This week, head coach Pete McCkleskey said his team will be playing with a little bit of a chip on its shoulders as they look to avenge their Week 1 performance and move on in the playoffs.

    “After getting beat the first game and giving up six turnovers, I think my kids can play a better ballgame,” McCleskey said. “We have looked at film on them all week and we know what they are going to do just like they know what we’re going to do. It’s just a matter of who can stop who.”

    The Rams come in banged up and will be without star running back Jason Craig who tore his ACL last week against Central Academy. Despite the big loss to  the Kemper offense, McCleskey said his players have banned around each other this week in practice and are ready to pull the upset Friday night.

    “I think we can play with them,” McCleskey said. “I think we can play with anybody. My kids are up, and they feel like they can play with anybody right now.”


Calvary still playing in Nov.

    It's been a while, but the Calvary Christian Cougars are playing football in November.

    In the first round of MAIS playoffs, they'll have to travel across state boarders for the chance to advance, but it’s not unheard of.  In 2008, when Calvary won the state title, it was in Louisiana.

    “This is not virgin territory for me,” Newell said. “I've had to do it. I know how long a ride it is. For the kids, it'll be a challenge.”

    The Cougars lost the regular season finale, dropping the district title and ending a four-game win streak.

    “I don't think it was anything that went wrong,” Newell said. “I think we got out played. Christian Collegiate Academy deserves every bit of credit. Those kids played hard. They own the turnover battle.”

    Additionally, they came out of the game a little banged up. Michael Sullivan and Alijaoen Kennedy will be game time decisions on Friday. Both have made a huge difference since joining Calvary halfway through the season.

    To keep the season alive, Newell said making tackles will be the biggest key in taking on a 9-1 Franklin Academy team.

    “We're just going to have to tackle these big running backs,” he said. “We're going to have to play good team defense.”


NCA hopes to repeat 2012

    The Newton County Academy is headed into the second week of MAIS A Division III playoffs and trekking across the state to take on Trinity Episcopal in Natchez.

    A year ago, the Generals made it to the semifinals and to do the same will have to get through the Saints. Head coach Robert Roberts said it is going to be a more difficult task this year.

    They are coming off a 14-0 shutout of Deer Creek in which the limited turnovers. Roberts said that's always the key no matter what time of year it is.

    “Can't turn the ball over, so if we don't, we have a chance,” he said. “If we do, we'll in bad shape.”

    The Saints are defeated and ranked No. 1 in the state, Roberts said. Additionally they play a completely opposite football game from NCA.

    “They like to throw the ball and spread out,” he said. “We like to run the ball mostly … If we can not turn it over and try to run the clock to keep the ball out of their hands as much as possible.”

    Roberts  stressed the responsibility of his offensive line and will get a key member back this week. Cole Killen broke his hand two weeks ago. He's still in a cast, but has been cleared to play.