• John Macon Gillespie

Tigers Continue To Take Care Of Business

Well, Noxubee County is moving on to 4A North State. And that’s exactly what their focus shifted to immediately following their 56-26 demolition of the Houston Hilltoppers last night at Hilltopper Field.

Coach Tyrone Shorter had a simple message for his team in a team huddle following the game: continue their run through the 4A North playoffs, on the road. They are trying to make history by being the first team to make it to the State Championship game in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium after winning each North Half playoff game on the road.

Shorter also shared with his team to maintain their composure. It was a chippy game all night between the Tigers and Toppers. Constant jawing, shoving and even an ejection for both sides all night. It was an intense playoff atmosphere if I have ever seen one.

What got it done for the Tigers was their defense. Houston was able to put 26 points on the board, scoring four touchdowns. However, one came off a fumble recovery and return from Denver McQuary and another came on a kickoff from Jalen May.

Jeffery Simmons played like a man possessed. He lead the charge and willed his teammates along with him. They lived in the backfield, causing confusion and discombobulation for the Topper offensive attack. The first score of the game came off a strip sack and fumble recovery return to the house for Simmons. Later Simmons would block a punt and his teammate Qendarrion Barnett would scoop it and finish off another score.

Perhaps even more importantly, the defense help Houston at bay early while the Tiger offense and quarterback Ti’Morrius Conner figured things out. When they did, however, the game got ugly fast.

A few observations:

Houston senior ATH and Mississippi State baseball commit Denver McQuary is silky smooth. On a kickoff he overran the ball, but with a simple and quick reach over his head he easily reeled in the kick. It happened really fast, but he made it look so easy. Other than that, he came away with his 33rd career interception, extending his grasp on the state record. He also had a massive hit over the middle on an attempted catch for a Noxubee receiver.

Jeffery Simmons is far and away the state’s best senior recruit. He was an emotional leader for his team. He really set the tone emotionally for the Tiger defense. He would flex and yell passionately(think Kevin Garnett) and the other defenders would feed off of it. Other than that, he made plays, was is position to make plays or changed plays all night long. He’s really big, really strong and really fast and quick. Really hard for any high school blocker to handle.

Lastly, the Noxubee County Tigers are a really selfless bunch. Following his message about football in the postgame team huddle, Coach Shorter asked for his seniors to be at the fieldhouse bright and early at 6:30 on Saturday morning. The purpose? They would be delivering meals to the elderly of their community this morning for Thanksgiving. Coach asked all seniors to be there, but I overheard Simmons say, “Everybody be there. Everybody.” That says a lot about Simmons and his leadership but also about the focus on humanity and community for the Tiger program. Pretty cool.

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