MAIS 4A Preview: Tri-County The Early Favorite

Tri-County quarterback Cade Shepherd. Photo by Chris Brooks.

The school may be different for coach Philip Wasson this season but the expectations are the same.

“Coming from a school that expects state championships to a school that also expects state championships is nothing new to me,” he said.

Wasson takes over at Tri-County Academy after spending the last nine seasons as head coach at Washington School where he led the Generals to state championships in 2010 and 2015.

The Rebels are eager to get back to the state championship game for the fourth time in the last five years and are seeking their first state title since 2012.

In the new reclassified Class 4A, which is a mix of Class AAA and AA from last year, Tri-County is the slight favorite to end the seven-year drought.

Cade Shepherd returns at quarterback to lead the offense, while the top two receivers are back in Jojo Jones and Landon Harris. Dillon Hendrick will be the running back this year. Three starters are back on the offensive line to help lead the running game.

“I’ve been impressed with the kids in the offseason workouts,” Wasson said. “All I have is film from last year, so we will see how we look once we get the pads on.”

Defensively the linebackers will be the bright spot led by Harris and Hendrick.

Shepherd will anchor the secondary at free safety.

“We won’t be big as far as size, but we’re going to be fast and physical,” Wasson said. “Some guys will have to play different spots, but I think the guys are ready for the challenge. Our classification this year is wide open.”

NEXT IN LINE

Brookhaven Academy: The Cougars are coming off a year where they reached the semifinal round of the Class AA playoffs. They are hoping for their first state title game appearance since 2012. Five starters return on offense led by quarterback Tyler Fortenberry. Also, back to help lead the offense is running back Nick Ogden, who rushed for 944 yards with 15 touchdowns last year. Three starters on the offensive line also return. Defensively the Cougars return six starters including a defensive line with all four starters returning led Gage Brown and Cade Watson. Ogden will lead the linebacker core, while Harrison Brownlee and Collin Waldrop will anchor the secondary.

Columbia Academy: Columbia Academy took some lumps last year but return just about all of their weapons to make a playoff run in 2019. Quarterback Ras Pace, running back Riles Stuart and receiver Robert Johnson return to lead the offense. Defensively Columbia returns their top four leading tacklers to anchor the defense led by Cole Rowell, Jordyn Mahaffey, Patrick Gill and Kris Ginn.

Cathedral: Cathedral returns six starters on both sides of the ball but most importantly return their leading rusher and top defender in Bryson Moore at running back and linebacker. J.T. Taylor is back at quarterback to lead the offense along with Sam Mosby and Ben White at receiver. Ethan Huff, Jones Richardson, Jack Russ, Kendall Washington, Jalen Moore, Landon Lees and Chris Johnson all return to lead the front seven. The secondary will be led by Taylor, Mosby and White.

Other teams to watch include North Delta, Wayne Academy, Winston Academy, Bowling Green (La.) and Riverfield (La.).

Top 5

  1. Tri-County Academy
  2. Brookhaven Academy
  3. Columbia Academy
  4. Cathedral
  5. North Delta

GAMES TO WATCH

Aug. 23: Bowling Green (La.) at Cathedral

Aug. 30: Riverfield (La.) at Tri-County Academy

Sept. 6: Columbia Academy at Brookhaven Academy

Sept. 13: Bowling Green (La.) at Columbia Academy

Sept. 20: Tri-County Academy at Canton Academy

Sept. 20: Cathedral at Brookhaven Academy

Sept. 27: Winston Academy at Tri-County Academy

Oct. 18: North Delta at Lee Academy