At a Glance: MHSAA Football State Championships


CLINTON (13-1) vs. PEARL (11-3)

Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

Arrows at a Glance

Coach: Judd Boswell

State Championships: None

State Championship Appearances: 2000

Players to Watch: QB Cam Akers; RB Darius Maberry; ATH Kam White; LB Jacobi Hearn; WR Reginald Landing

How they got here: def. Hernando 63-35; def. Warren Central 27-21 (OT); def. Madison Central 38-34

Coach Speak: “Biggest thing for us is to treat like any other ball game. It’s a big ball game but that’s how you have to treat it,” Judd Boswell said. “Pearl is really good on both sides of the ball and at the end of the day we’ve to play for 48 minutes of mistake free football.”

Pirates at a Glance

Coach: John Perry

State Championships: None

State Championships Appearances: 1985

Players to Watch: QB Jake Smithhart, RB Johhny Winston, WR Johnquarise Patterson, ATH Tylan Knight, TE/DE Gunnar Williams

How they got here: def. Biloxi 38-13; def. Meridian 44-6; def. Petal 24-3

Coach Speak: “Super Cam (Akers) is really good. He’s going to make plays and no one has been able to stop him.,” John Perry said. “You’ve got to limit that and be able to score some points.”

Buzz: Two metro area teams will battle in a state title game for the first time since 1999. Cam Akers and the explosive Clinton offense is averaging 260.7 yards rushing and 207.9 yards passing per game will go up against a Pearl team is on fire right now that has won nine in a row. Akers has tossed for 2,900 yards with 29 touchdowns and has rushed for 1,888 yards with 29 touchdowns. Running back and USM commit Darius Maberry has rushed for 1,162 yards with 17 touchdowns as well as seven receiving touchdowns. Iowa State commit Kam White, Reginald Landing, and Jordan Patton help anchor the receiving core for Clinton. Pirates are balanced on offense as well averaging 172.6 yards receiving and 140.9 yards rushing per game and is anchored by a pair of juniors in quarterback Jake Smithhart (2,346 yards passing, 29 touchdowns), running back Johnny Winston (1,342 yards rushing, 22 touchdowns) and receiver Johnquarise Patterson (804 yards receiving, 11 touchdowns). Pearl’s defense has been playing lights out during its current 9-game winning streak only giving up 13.4 points per game. Cam and company just too much to handle. Arrows capture first state in school history in a nail biter.

Pick: Clinton 34-31



WEST POINT (13-1) vs. LAUREL (13-1)

Kickoff: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Green Wave at a Glance

Coach: Chris Chambless

State Championships: 2010, 2009, 2005, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1982

State Championship Appearances: 2010, 2009, 2005, 2002, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1984, 1982

Players to Watch: ATH Marcus Murphy, QB Clayton Knight, RB Andre Lane, RB Chris Calvert, LB Xavier Fair

How they got here: def. Holmes Central 41-7; def. Oxford 41-0; def. Lake Cormorant 40-7

Coach Speak: “They got receivers that can go up and get it and play with a lot of swagger,” Chris Chambless said. “Our defense is going to take a lot of pride in trying to stop that.”

Golden Tornadoes at a Glance

Coach: Todd Breland

State Championships: 2014, 2007, 1990

State Championships Appearances: 2014, 2011, 2007, 1990, 1988

Players to Watch: ATH Tyquan Ulmer, WR Dontarrio Drummond, RB Michael Terrell, DL Darius Townsend, DL Keelyn Brown

How they got here: def. Stone 35-13; def. Hattiesburg 45-42; def. Picayune 45-27

Coach Speak: “We haven’t played no where close to what West Point brings,” Todd Breland said. “Their big, fast and physical and that is going to be a big challenge for us.”

Buzz: This one is going to be a tale of two offenses, Laurel’s explosive passing attack against the always deadly West Point run heavy attack. The Golden Tornadoes are very balanced on offense averaging 253.6 yards passing and 167.1 yards rushing and is led by the duo of quarterback Tyquan Ulmer (3,162 yards passing, 41 touchdowns) and wide receiver Dontario Drummond (1,568 yards receiving, 17 touchdowns). Green Wave is averaging 238.5 yards rushing that is anchored by a trio of running backs in MSU commit Marcus Murphy (1,615 yards rushing, 22 touchdowns), Andre Lane (721 yards rushing, nine touchdowns) and Chris Calvert (304 yards rushing, five touchdowns). Quarterback Clayton Knight has tossed for 1,292 yards with 15 touchdowns to help keep West Point balanced on offense. The West Point defense only allows 11.8 points per game. Defense wins championships so going with the Wave.

Pick: West Point 21-17




Kickoff: Saturday, 3 p.m.

Commodores at a Glance

Coach: Michael Fair

State Championships: 2011, 2010

State Championship Appearances: 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009

Players to Watch: QB Will Ard, RB JaMarcus Quarles, ATH Tyler Williams, LB Dillon Woods, LB Brandon Curry

How they got here: def. Shannon 44-0; def. Louisville 24-7; def. Amory 51-13; def. Pontotoc 21-14

Coach Speak: “Offensively we are going to have to move the ball on third down and keep the chains moving,” Michael Fair said. “Poplarville runs a wing-T offense and defense the have a five man front. We haven’t seen that all year so we got our hands full.”

Hornets at a Glance

Coach: Jay Beech

State Championships: None

State Championships Appearances: None

Players to Watch: RB Austin Bolton, RB Jesse Pernell, RB Tyson Holston, DL Chad Hart, LB JaMerrick Waller

How they got here: def. Pass Christian 63-21; def. Quitman 33-12; def. Mendenhall 60-12; def. Florence 42-14

Coach Speak: “Lafayette is going to be the best team we’ve played all season by far. You look at them on film they look like your about to face a junior college team,” Jay Beech said. “Defense is playing lights out and offense has been executing well all year long, so we hope our guys can go out and get the job done.”

Buzz: If you like old fashion football that’ll feature a lot of rushing attempts and a lot of defense then this is the game to be at. Poplarville is averaging 379.5 yards per game on the ground and is led by a trio of backs in Austin Bolton (1,701 yards rushing, 21 touchdowns), Jesse Pernell (1,614 yards rushing, 26 touchdowns) and Tyson Holston (452 yards rushing, six touchdowns). The Hornet defense is only giving up 16 points per game. Lafayette is a little balanced on offense averaging 233.6 yards per game rushing and 131.9 yards passing that is anchored by quarterback Will Ard (1,811 yards passing, 18 touchdowns) and running back Jamarcus Quarles (2,062 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns). MSU commit and ATH Tyler Williams helps lead a defense that only gives up 11.7 points per game. Dores claim first state title since 2011.

Pick: Lafayette 27-20




Kickoff: Saturday, 11 a.m.

Tigers at a Glance

Coach: Scott Martin

State Championships: 2011

State Championship Appearances: 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2005

Players to Watch: QB Tre Truly, RB Billy Kimble, RB Rickey Sutton, LB Jonathan Jones, DE Bo Curtis

How they got here: def. Belmont 52-0; def. Yazoo County 29-19; def. Cleveland East Side 34-0; def. Velma Jackson 46-17

Coach Speak: “They got a very well balanced team offensively, so we got to be prepared to stop everything,” Scott Martin said. “Our motto this year is finish because we didn’t do that the last two years. We’ve been a little more balanced offensively and that has helped us a lot.”

Wildcats at a Glance

Coach: Chris Jones

State Championships: None

State Championships Appearances: None

Players to Watch: QB Eric Clark, WR D.J. Clayton, RB Chandler Roberts, LB Gary Bourrage, LB Recadre Moore

How they got here: def. Crystal Springs 58-0; def. Wilkinson County 36-16; def. Seminary 48-23; def. Raleigh 28-20

Coach Speak: “They are good up front and they have the athletes to run that style of offense,” Chris Jones said. “Thank goodness we played a tough schedule against some big teams that run the ball and the last two weeks in the playoffs Seminary and Raleigh that love to run the ball, so our defense will know what’s coming and will be ready.”

Buzz: Charleston is in the 3A state title game for the third straight year and looking to get over the hump after falling the two years in heart breaking style, but it will be tough against a potent Kemper County squad. Tigers are led behind a rushing attack that’s averaging 205.4 yards and is anchored by running backs Billy Kimble (1,639 yards rushing, 19 touchdowns) and Fred Hervey (411 yards, seven touchdowns) along with quarterback Tre Truly (478 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns; 1,091 yards passing, 17 touchdowns). Charleston’s defense only gives up 11.8 points a game. Kemper County can score in a hurry behind quarterback Eric Clark (3,145 yards passing, 47 touchdowns; 932 yards rushing, eight touchdowns), wide receiver D.J. Clayton (1,931 yards receiving, 28 touchdowns) and running back Chandler Roberts (1,099 yards, five touchdowns). Charleston claims first state title since 2011 with defense.

Pick: Charleston 26-19



CALHOUN CITY (14-1) vs. BAY SPRINGS (12-3)

Kickoff: Friday, 3 p.m.

Wildcats at a Glance

Coach: Perry Liles

State Championships: 1989

State Championship Appearances: 2014, 2013, 2010, 2008, 2006, 1995, 1994, 1989, 1988, 1983

Players to Watch: QB Jojo Gray, RB Jesse Nabors, RB/LB Keshun Parker, RB/LB Atarius Moore, WR/DB Keshun Roberson

How they got here: def. O’Bannon 44-0; def. J.Z. George 35-0; def. West Bolivar 34-6; def. Baldwyn 47-20

Coach Speak: “Anytime you can beat Bassfield your good and we could never do it,” Perry Liles said. “This is the third time in four years for us to play in it and we hope the experience in this game will help us.”

Bulldogs at a Glance

Coach: Dan Brady

State Championships: None

State Championships Appearances: 1999, 1989

Players to Watch: RB Jaylin Jones, RB/LB Damerious Jones, QB Caderius Lee, WR/LB Lejavieon Gammage, DE Dashawn Crawford

How they got here: def. Scott Central 32-10; def. Amite County 44-6; def. Union 33-6; def. Bassfield 18-13

Coach Speak: “Nobody gave us a chance against Bassfield, but now it’s like another David vs. Goliath type matchup,” Dan Brady said. “Their very fast and do a lot of different looks and we are going to have be in the right spots in order to stop it.”

Buzz: After missing out last year Calhoun City is back in the 2A state title game for the third time in the last four years, while Bay Springs is in the state title for the first time since 1999. The Wildcats have leaned on a rushing attack that is averaging 295 yards a game and a defense that only allows 8.6 points per game. Jesse Nabors (1,253 yards rushing, 24 touchdowns), Keshun Parker (993 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns) and Jojo Gray (820 yards rushing, nine touchdowns) anchor the Calhoun City ground game. Bay Springs leans on a ground game as well that averages 269.5 yards per game and is led by the duo of running backs in Jaylin Jones (1,913 yards rushing, 25 touchdowns) and Damerious Jones (1,013 yards rushing, 14 touchdowns). Jaylin Jones scored on a 93-yard touchdown run last week that won it for Bay Springs over four-time defending 2A champion Bassfield. Defense wins championships, so Wildcats claim first state title since 1989.

Pick: Calhoun City 28-21



SIMMONS (12-0) vs. LUMBERTON (12-2)

Kickoff: Friday, 11 a.m.

Blue Devils at a Glance

Coach: Tavares Johnson

State Championships: 2015

State Championships Appearances: 2015, 2005

Players to Watch: ATH Marquez Pam, RB Demarrius Turner, QB Chandler Robinson, DE Tyus Levee, DE Amos Robinson

How they got here: def. Falkner 98-18; def. Shaw 6-0; def. Smithville 44-7

Coach Speak: “Lumberton poses problems because they are big and physical up front,” Tavares Johnson said. “By far they are going to be the best team we’ve played all year so we better bring our best.”

Panthers at a Glance

Coach: Zach Jones

State Championships: 2010, 2005, 2004, 1983

State Championship Appearances: 2010, 2005, 2004, 1983

Players to Watch: RB Dre Coleman, RB Rodriques Coleman, QB Jared Tribett, DL Dakota Walters, LB Davion Edwards

How they got here: def. French Camp 48-0; def. Stringer 66-14; def. Nanih Waiya 50-48 (OT)

Coach Speak: “We got our hands full. Simmons is a great football team with a bunch of athletes,” Zach Jones said. “They play so hard as a team and that is what really stands out to me.”

Buzz: It isn’t a David vs. Goliath, but it is close to it as the Panthers face off against the defending 1A champion Blue Devils. Lumberton is led by a physical rushing attack that averages 310.9 yards per game that is anchored by Dre Coleman (2,462 yards rushing, 31 touchdowns) and Rodriques Coleman (829 yards rushing, six touchdowns). Quarterback Jared Tribett has tossed for 1,613 yards with 23 touchdowns to help the Panthers be balanced. Simmons is also led by a fierce rushing attack that’s averaging 321.4 yards per game that is led by do-it-all ATH Marquez Pam (1,875 yards rushing, 27 touchdowns) and Demarrius Turner (824 yards rushing, nine touchdowns). The Blue Devil defense is only allowing 8.1 points per game. Simmons goes back to back.

Pick: Simmons 21-15