• John Macon Gillespie

Five Teams That Could Make A Run

Last season Petal made an impressive run in the 6A playoffs, winning 6A South and playing Starkville for the championship. It was a surprise run for the Panthers after their 7-4 finish in the regular season. With week 10 underway, it’s time to start looking at a few teams who could make a similar run.

Not all of these teams are too far off the the beaten path. Three teams below don’t even find themselves ranked in the top 5 in their classification. So take a look at five teams who could make a surprise run to state championship game.

George County Rebels(5-3, 3-1)

It’s hard not to like the George County offense, led by do-it-all quarterback LaRaymond Spivery. The Rebels average just under 540 yards of total offense per game, torching opponents’ secondaries to the tune of 413 yards per game. Four receivers have 270 yards or more, and three have 564 or more. Meanwhile, Spivery leads the team with 565 rushing yards and nine rushing scores.

For Matt Caldwell’s bunch, it has been a season of streaks so far. The Rebels opened the season up 2-0, before losing three straight. Now, they find themselves on a three-game winning streak. A home contest against Biloxi this Friday, plus road trips to St. Martin and Hancock remain for George County.

Hattiesburg Tigers(6-3, 3-1)

Just like George County, Hattiesburg is a team that looks championship quality on the offensive side of the ball. Star power in the backfield, and at the skill positions, has made the Tiger offense once of the most balanced in the state. They average 288 yards through the air and 231 yards on the ground per game. Julian Conner could be a Player of the Year candidate in 5A if he didn’t play beside Fabian Franklin, D’Andre Humbles and Jordan Murphy.

Each of the three losses for Hattiesburg have been close, with the results coming at the hands of Petal, Oak Grove and Picayune. Looking ahead, Tony Vance will take his team on the road at Gautier then Pearl River Central before hosting Stone to end the season. Stone just knocked off top 5A team Picayune.

Houston Hilltoppers(8-1, 3-0)

Yes, the Toppers, under first year head coach Ty Hardin, are ranked third in the 4A top 5, but they still belong on this list. While most are looking to St. Stanislaus, Pontotoc, Amory or recently-minted top-10 Poplarville Hornets. Not enough pundits and fans are considering the eight-game winning streak the Toppers are on, with their only loss of the season coming to Pontotoc in the season-opener. Louisville and Noxubee County are the two teams remaining on the schedule for Houston.

Junior quarterback Urriah Shephard is growing up in a big way this season and he’s learning to lead this team. The supporting cast is made up of studs on both sides of the ball in: Zykiel Virges, Jalon Gates, Jalen May, Johnta Walker, Tanner Bullock, Taylor Baskin and Omario Johnson. Hardin’s defensive unit is nasty and really puts pressure on the quarterback, while many of his versatile athletes are always around to gang tackle. This group fears no one.

Lafayette Commodores(6-2, 3-0)

Michael Fair, first year head coach, didn’t get his first win as head coach at Lafayette until game three this season. Since then, however, the ball has yet to stop rolling for the Dores. On their current six-game winning streak they have beaten Charleston, Louisville, Rosa Fort, New Albany and Ripley. Additionally, they took down Oxford in the Crosstown Classic to kick the winning streak off. That was their first win over the Chargers in four tries. Senatobia and Byhalia make up the final two games of the season.

Tyrell Price was a big loss for the Commodores from last season, but his production has been picked up in part by Jamarcus Quarles, who has nearly 1,400 rushing yards this season. Quarterback Will Ard has weopons around him in Brandon Turnage and Tyler Williams, who are also fantastic defensive backs. Turnage has five interceptions this season. Senior defensive linemen Cory Williams and Amani Johnson have five and four sacks this season, respectively.

Kossuth Aggies(8-1, 3-0)

Like Houston, the Kossuth Aggies are a red hot bunch, with just one loss on the season. Also, similar to the Hilltoppers, that loss came at the hands of the Pontotoc Warriors. Brian Kelly has guided his team to seven straight wins since falling to the Warriors following a season-opening win over Independence. Benton County and Booneville still await the Aggies this season.

While Jaley Adams has battled injury this season, his 1,023 rushing yards still leads a team that averages nearly 260 yards per game on the ground. Senior Beau Lee has given his team a spark in a few areas. So far this season he has tallied 29 catches for 728 yards and 10 scores, while making 42 tackles on defense to go with an interceptions and even a 70-yard passing score.

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