Wade Tackett inherited a great situation at Simmons. The Blue Devils lost a total of four players off last year’s team that won its second straight 1A state championship.
“The adjustment stuff has been just fine,” said Tackett, who recently was defensive coordinator at Grenada. “The kids have given me everything they have and I am impressed with their attitude and work ethic.”
The Blue Devils have the state’s longest active winning streak at 25 games. That will likely extend due in large part to the return of running back Marquez Pam. Pam rushed for 2,286 yards with 31 touchdowns last yer. Also back is running back Demorris Turner, who rushed for 1,077 yards with 11 touchdowns.
“Marquez is looking better than he did last year and wants to do more,” Tackett said. “We will be getting the ball in his hands as much as possible, but we got other athletes that are capable of making big plays.”
Lumberton welcomes back seven starters on offense and 10 more for the Panther defense. Jared Tribett threw for 1,781 yards with 24 touchdowns last year. Rodriqus Coleman anchors the running game, while receiver Donnell Buckner returns to give the Panthers a deep threat.
“We got a taste of getting to the state championship game and coming up short and that has driven us this offseason,” said Lumberton coach Zach Jones.
Nanih Waiya will count on running backs Taemaus Glass and Chris Smith. Smith was last year’s Class 1A Mr. Football. Bryce Stanton will make the transition from wide receiver to quarterback this season.
“Taemaus and Chris back is always a good feeling for me. We will expect a lot out of them and are going to be more balanced this year,” said Nanih Waiya coach Ryan Keeton.
Shaw brings back five starters on offense and six on defense. Quarterback Melindrick Johnson shares a backfield with running backs Josh Bass and Decciarus Clark. Linebackers Malik Matthews and Deandre King will anchor the defense.
“I feel good about what we’ve got back on offense, but the biggest thing for us is we got to be more consistent and not have mental breakdowns in key situations,” said Shaw coach Montrell Finley.
Resurrection brings back 15 total starters but will only dress out 29 players. Blake Porter returns at quarterback after throwing for 1,195 yards with 12 touchdowns. Linebackets Becht Rowell and Cearly Parker will lead the defense.
Smithville has fallen to Simmons in the past two seasons in the 1A North state championship. Cameron Wardlaw will be the new quarterback and will have some playmakers including running backs Chet Moffett, Caleb Leech and Omar Freeman.
East Marion moves down to 1A from 2A and should be a force with one of the state’s most underrated running backs in Jarveon Howard. East Marion has won a total of three games the last two seasons.
French Camp has 19 total starters back from a young team that reached the playoffs. All skill players are back on offense led by quarterback Holman Edwards and running back Kendall Coleman, Jr.
Smithville has nine consecutive playoff appearances under their belt. New head coach Michael Campbell has Cameron Wardlaw at quarterback and playmakers to spread the ball around to including running backs Chet Moffett, Caleb Leech and Omar Freeman along with slot receiver Dustin Moffett.
Falkner has been a perennial playoff team, reaching the postseason for each of the last seasons. Playoff success is the next step for the Eagles with wins hard to come by. Autry Windham gives the offense experience at quarterback after passing for 1,277 yards and eight touchdowns last year.
Stringer returns a lot on offense. Quarterback Caleb Dyess, running back Anthony Thomas and wide receiver Keyshaun Dease return to carry the offense that averaged 27.8 points per game last year.
CLASS 1A RANKINGS
3 Nanih Waiya
6 East Marion
7 French Camp
REGION COACHES’ POLLS
4 Tupelo Christian
8 Potts Camp
7 Broad Street
9 Montgomery County
1 Nanih Waiya
2 French Camp
4 West Lowndes
7 Leake County
3 East Marion
5 Sacred Heart
6 Mt. Olive
QB Jared Tribett 5’10, 185, Jr, Lumberton
AP Marquez Pam 5’11, 190, Sr, Simmons
RB Jarveon Howard 5’10, 205, Sr, East Marion
RB Drick Coleman 5’9, 180, Sr, Lumberton
RB Chris Smith 5’10, 185, Sr, Nanih Waiya
WR Donnell Buckner 6’6, 175, Sr, Lumberton
WR Quinshawn Lucious 6’1, 170, Sr, West Lowndes
OL Kolby Holder 6′, 275, Sr, Stringer
OL Jalen Hudson 5’11, 330, Jr, Broad Street
OL Garret Crowder 6′, 210, Jr, Sacred Heart
OL Kyle Holdiness 6’2, 235, Jr, Nanih Waiya
OL Jackson Byrd 6′, 285, Sr, Resurrection
DL Tyus Levy 5’11, 195, Jr, Simmons
DL Keontae Baker 5’10, 320, Jr, Coffeeville
DL Dakota Walters 5’7, 160, Sr, Lumberton
DL Zackariah Johnson 6’1, 205, Sr, Newton
LB Fred Smith 6’4, 190, Sr, Simmons
LB Davion Edwards 5’10, 240, Jr, Lumberton
LB Cearly Parker IV 5’8, 200, Sr, Resurrection
LB Dalton Luke 6′, 175, Sr, Nanih Waiya
DB William Scott 6’, 175, Sr, Shaw
DB Dustin Moffett 5’10, 160, Sr, Smithville
DB Devin Dorsey 6’2, 175, Sr, Shaw
DB Willie Harrison 6’1, 175, Sr. Sebastopol
PK Jake Kight 6’1, 170, Jr, Nanih Waiya
P Trae Owen 5’11, 225, Sr, Vardaman