Your Guide to the 2015 MHSAA Football State Championships

Photo by Keith Warren

The MHSAA State Championship games start tomorrow morning with the final six high school football games of the 2015 season played Friday and Saturday. Here is a look at the teams competing for championships.

 

MHSAA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

At Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford

 

CLASS 6A

STARKVILLE (13-1) vs. PETAL (10-4)

 

Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

 

Starkville at a Glance

Coach: Ricky Woods

How they got here: beat Olive Branch 46-24; beat Clinton 45-27, beat Madison Central 28-20

State Championships: 2012 (5A), 2001 (5A), 1995 (5A), 1994 (4A), 1984 (5A)

State Championship Runners-Up: 2011 (5A), 1985 (5A), 1983 (AA), 1981 (AA)

Players to watch: WR A.J. Brown, Sr.; DL Kobe Jones, Sr.; LB Willie Gay, Jr.

Coach Speak: “We need to just go out and enjoy playing in the state championship,” Woods said. “We don’t need to turn the ball over and prevent the big play because that is what Petal lives off of are those two things.”

Buzz: Starkville is back in the 6A state title for the first time since winning the Class 5A state title over Pascagoula in 2012. The Jackets have a very explosive offense led by 4-star wide receiver A.J. Brown (1,254 yards, 12 touchdowns), running back Avery Brown (1,560 yards rushing, 17 touchdowns) and QB Montario Montgomery (2,633 yards passing, 27 touchdowns). Defensive tackles Kobe Jones, Lorenzo Dantzler, Maleke Bell and linebacker Wille Gay anchors a very talented defensive front seven for Starkville.

 

Petal at a Glance

Coach: Marcus Boyles

How they got here: beat Harrison Central 40-21; beat Brandon 35-30, beat Meridian 36-28

State Championships: None

State Championship Runners-Up: 2011 (6A)

Players to watch: QB Samuel Hopper, Sr.; RB Stephon Huderson, Jr.; WR/DB Tanner Estill, Jr.

Coach Speak: “This group has pleased me more because nobody gave us a chance to get this far,” Boyles said. “Offensively, we need to get points when we can and defensively we need to get off the field on third down.”

Buzz: Panthers have been rolling and are on a seven-game winning streak and are coming off a come from behind win over Meridian in South State. Offensively, Petal is very balanced behind senior QB Samuel Hopper (2,255 yards passing, 22 touchdowns) the Panthers are averaging 209.2 rushing and 178.7 yards passing. Wide receiver Tanner Estill (707 yards, six touchdowns) and running back Stephon Huderson (1,779 yards, 20 touchdowns) are the leading weapons offensively for the Panthers.

 

Pick: Starkville’s defensive front is just too potent. Starkville 31-20.

 

CLASS 5A

OXFORD (12-2) vs. WAYNE COUNTY (11-3)

 

Kickoff: Saturday, 7 p.m.

 

Oxford at a Glance

Coach: Johnny Hill

How they got here: beat Vicksburg 35-21; beat Germantown 40-33, beat West Point 35-7

State Championships: None

State Championship Runners-Up: 2003 (4A), 2013 (5A), 2014 (5A)

Players to watch: QB Jack Abraham, Sr.; WR D.K. Metcalf, Sr.; WR Ken Presley, Sr.

Coach Speak: “We still trying to figure how we are going to block their defensive line,” Hill said. “We really let the opponent decide whether we are going to throw it or run it every day based on their scheme.”

Buzz: The Chargers are back in the 5A state title game for the third consecutive year. Tulane commit Jack Abraham has tossed for 4,541 yards with 53 touchdowns and his top target in Ole Miss commit D.K. Metcalf has 1,308 yards receiving with 20 touchdowns.

 

Wayne County at a Glance

Coach: Todd Mangum

How they got here: beat Picayune 58-28; beat Pearl River Central 37-13; beat Laurel 55-27

State Championships: 2002 (5A), 2003 (4A), 2006 (4A)

State Championship Runners-Up: 2005 (4A), 2009 (5A)

Players to watch: RB Freddy Jordan, Sr.; WR Rameik Wallace, Sr.; DL Benito Jones, Sr.

Coach Speak: “Offensively they have so many weapons and are very explosive,” Mangum said. “Our defensive line is going to have to put pressure on the quarterback and make him feel uncomfortable.”

Buzz: War Eagles are back in the Class 5A state championship game for the first time since 2009. Wayne County held a very explosive offense in Laurel last week, can it do the same against Oxford? Benito Jones and Tyreke Evans anchor a very disruptive defensive line for Wayne County. Running back Freddy Jordan (1,163 yards, 18 touchdowns) and quarterback Reggie Stewart (2,445 yards passing, 23 touchdowns) lead the War Eagles on offense.

 

Pick: Third time is the charm for Oxford. Oxford 31-26.

 

CLASS 4A

NOXUBEE COUNTY (11-4) vs. ST. STANISLAUS (11-3)

 

Kickoff: Saturday, 3 p.m.

 

Noxubee County at a Glance

Coach: Tyrone Shorter

How they got here: beat Amory 41-10; beat Lafayette 20-13; beat Houston 56-26; beat Greenwood 14-7

State Championships: 2014 (4A), 2012 (4A), 2008 (4A)

State Championship Runners-Up: 2007 (4A)

Players to watch: DE Jeffrey Simmons, Sr.; QB Timorrius Conner, Sr.; LB Quendarion Barnett, Sr.

Coach Speak: “We had the injury bug bite us and we finally got back healthy and got back on roll,” Shorter said. “We aren’t going to stop cause of their explosiveness it’s just we have to slow them down and get pressure the quarterback.”

Buzz: Tigers are back in the Class 4A state championship and are aiming for a repeat. After suffering a 4-game losing streak during the middle part of the season the Tigers have rolled off nine wins in a row. Timorrius Conner anchors the offense with 2,579 yards passing with 20 touchdowns. Jeffrey Simmons is the most disruptive defensive lineman in the state and has recorded 86 tackles with 12 sacks. Simmons and Qendarion Barnett have combined for 25 and a half tackles for loss.

 

St. Stanislaus at a Glance

Coach: Bill Conides

How they got here: beat Quitman 47-20; beat Poplarville 33-21; beat Moss Point 44-20; beat Lawrence County 62-28

State Championships: 2009 (4A)

State Championship Runners-Up: 2014 (4A)

Players to watch: QB Myles Brennan, Jr.; WR Chase Rogers, Jr.; LB Mitchell Walk, Sr.

Coach Speak: “We are going to have to create turnovers that is the key,” Conides said. “We’ve have been very explosive in the passing game, but we are going to have to run the ball and against Noxubee that isn’t easy.”

Buzz: St. Stanislaus is back in the 4A state title game and are aiming for some serious revenge after losing to Noxubee County last year. The pass happy Rock-a-chaws are averaging 344.5 yards per game through the air. Promising junior quarterback Myles Brennan has tossed for 4,430 yards with 44 touchdowns. His top target Chase Rogers has 1,330 yards with 17 touchdowns. Mitchell Walk and Mason Favre lead the defense for St. Stanislaus.

 

Pick: Noxubee County has won some tight ones through out the playoffs and pull out another one in state title game. Noxubee County 28-24.

 

CLASS 3A

CHARLESTON (13-2) vs. COLLINS (14-1)

 

Kickoff: Saturday, 11 a.m.

 

Charleston at a Glance

Coach: Scott Martin

How they got here: beat Humphreys County 56-8; beat North Pontotoc 49-15; beat Yazoo County 28-0; beat Aberdeen 37-6

State Championships: 2011 (3A)

State Championship Runners-Up: 2005 (3A), 2012 (3A), 2014 (3A)

Players to watch: QB Tre Truly, Jr.; RB Ahmad Alexander, Sr.; TE/DE Tyjour Jones, Sr.

Coach Speak: “We know what they got and they know what we got so expect it to be like last year,” Martin said. “Two totally different teams this cause of the schemes we run, but we are going to have to slow them down to be successful.”

Buzz: As expected the Tigers are once again back in the 3A state championship for the fourth time in the last five years and will be out for revenge as they get a rematch with Collins. Once again the heavy ground game for Charleston leads the way. The Tigers are averaging 223.8 yards per game on the ground and are led by Ahmad Alexander (804 yards, 15 touchdowns) and Billy Kimble (830 yards, 10 touchdowns). Defensive end Tyjour Jones (47 tackles, 16 sacks) and Johnathan Jones (77 tackles) lead the defense.

 

Collins at a Glance

Coach: Ryan Earnest

How they got here: beat Philadelphia 66-43; beat Wilkinson County 46-36; beat Kemper County 62-34; beat West Marion 40-36

State Championships: 2014 (3A), 2002 (3A), 2001 (3A)

State Championship Runners-Up: None

Players to watch: QB Detric Hawthorn, Sr.; RB/LB Timothy Durr, Sr.; WR/DB Calvin Keys, Sr.

Coach Speak: “I think they are athletic than we were than they were last year, but the main thing is they play hard,” Earnest said. “Our guys are going to have to step to the challenge and have to be physical to stop the run.”

Buzz: To say the Tigers on a mission to repeat is an understatement and are undefeated in state title games. Collins will get a familiar opponent in Charleston. Collins won a thrilling overtime game last year 28-20. The Tigers is very explosive on offense led by quarterback Detric Hawthorn (3,930 yards, 39 touchdowns) and his weapons in running back Timothy Durr (1,171 yards rushing, 22 touchdowns) and wide receiver Calvin Keys (1,527 yards, 13 touchdowns). The Tigers are averaging 47.5 points per game this year, but in the four playoff games the Tiger defense has given up 149 points (37.3 points per game).

 

Pick: Collins will repeat in yet another classic title game just like last year in the all-Tiger matchup. Collins 29-26.

 

CLASS 2A

EAST WEBSTER (14-1) vs. BASSFIELD (13-2)

 

Kickoff: Friday, 3 p.m.

 

East Webster at a Glance

Coach: Doug Wilson

How they got here: beat Walnut 42-8; beat South Delta 43-22; beat Greenville O’Bannon 37-12; beat Baldwyn 28-14

State Championships: None

State Championship Runners-Up: 2006 (1A)

Players to watch: QB Jack Wilson, Sr.; RB Chase Keller, Sr.; FB/LB Luke Wilson, Jr.

Coach Speak: “We knew since June 1st that we were going to be successful unless we go to this point,” Wilson said. “The only word I can describe Bassfield is impressive.”

Buzz: The Wolverines are the hottest team in 2A and it has gotten them to the Class 2A state championship game. Do-it-all quarterback Jack Wilson leads the way offensively for East Webster. He has passed for 1,643 yards with 14 touchdowns and has rushed for 1,078 yards with 20 touchdowns. Running back Chase Keller 1,523 yards with 27 touchdowns. Linebacker Luke Wilson leads the Wolverine defense with 144 tackles.

 

Bassfield at a Glance

Coach: Lance Mancuso

How they got here: beat Pelahatchie 59-13; beat Union 47-8; beat Taylorsville 42-13; beat Bay Springs 43-28

State Championships: 2014 (2A), 2013 (2A), 2012 (2A), 2009 (2A), 1986 (2A), 1985 (2A), 1984 (2A)

State Championship Runners-Up: None

Players to watch: RB Ron Thompson, Jr.; RB Rashaud Green, So.; LB Racheem Booth, Sr.

Coach Speak: “Definitely going to have to stop the quarterback. They do a great job of running the option,” Mancuso said. “This years group is a special group because they feed off each other and is a blue collar team because they play so hard.”

Buzz: Bassfield is undefeated in state championship games. The three-time defending Class 2A state champ Yellow Jackets have been on a roll once again. Running backs Ron Thompson (1,170 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Rashaud Green (1,001 yards, 18 touchdowns) lead the potent Bassfield rushing attack that is averaging 293.9 yards per game. Southern Miss commit Racheem Booth and defensive tackle Jerome Johnson anchor the defense.

 

Pick: The Yellow Jacket rushing attack is just too much too handle. Bassfield 40-27.

 

CLASS 1A

SIMMONS (11-0) vs. RESURRECTION (13-0)

 

Kickoff: Friday, 11 a.m.

 

Simmons at a Glance

Coach: Tavares Johnson

How they got here: beat Coldwater 49-0; beat West Lowndes 75-12; beat Smithville 46-0

State Championships: None

State Championship Runners-Up: 2005 (2A)

Players to watch: ATH Nero Nelson, Sr.; RB/DB Marquez Pam, So.; DB Jamaal Pam, Sr.

Coach Speak: “Our offense feeds off our defense, but we they have a running back that is the same size as some of our lineman and that is unheard of,” Johnson said. “We had this motto called “finish the mission” and that slogan means to bring home the gold ball.”

Buzz: All the Blue Devils is run and run some more. Simmons is averaging close to 300 yards a game on the ground and led by Mississippi State commit Nero Nelson. Blue Devil defense has only given up 30 points all season.

 

Resurrection at a Glance

Coach: Scott Sisson

How they got here: beat Sebastopol 35-0; beat Stringer 31-0; beat Lumberton 23-8

Players to watch: RB/LB Patrick Watts, Jr.; RB/DB Dillan Jolly, Sr.; RB/LB Justice Sharp, Jr.

Coach Speak: “Oh my God they are fast,” Sisson said. “We are going to find to tackle in space because our guys haven’t seen speed like they are about to see.”

State Championships: None

State Championship Runners-Up: None

Buzz: The Eagles are in the state title game for the first time ever. Resurrection has been nothing short of unstoppable all season. Resurrection is averaging 264.8 yards per game on the ground led by Patrick Watts (1,167 yards, 10 touchdowns). Defensively, the Eagles have given up just 32 points all season (2.7 points per game) have recorded eight shutouts this season, including three in a row.

Pick: Nero Nelson and the Blue Devil rushing attack is just too much. Simmons 26-21.