Coverage Breakdown: 1A Championship
When: Friday, 11:00am
The Panthers defeated Nanih Waiya in what was perhaps the most exciting game in Mississippi high school football all season last Friday night. Their reward? To play the undefeated Simmons Blue Devils for a state championship. Winners of 11 straight, the Panthers are also a load to deal with. Those 11 consecutive wins come on the heels of a 1-2 start that included losses to Perry Central and Poplarville, who is playing for the 4A title.
Setting up a matchup between big time running backs and fellow class 1A Player of the Year candidates will be Dre Coleman. He rushed for over 2,400 yards and 31 touchdowns this season. However, he hasn’t been the only productive rusher for the Panthers this season. Rodriqus Coleman has gone over 800 yards on the ground with six scores, while Davion Edwards is nearing 500 rushing yards with four scores and quarterback Jared Tribett is second on the team with eight rushing scores.
Zach Jones doesn’t elect to go to the passing game often, but Lumberton is capable. they throw it for over 120 yards per game, but they really get it done on the ground, to the tune of 310 yards per game.
Simmons Blue Devils(12-0)
After taking home the gold ball in 2015, Simmons picked right back up this fall where they left off last December. Though it has been a new season, full of new challenges, nothing has been able to slow the Blue Devils down as they swept through the regular season and 1A North playoff bracket without a loss. Their biggest wins have come against Shaw(twice) and Smithville.
Running back and SES 1A Player of the Year, Marquez Pam, leads the way for the Blue Devils. His 1,875 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground were good enough to lead his team and earn him an impressive accolade this season. Next, he is hoping it can earn he and his teammates a second straight ring. Last season Mississippi State signee Nero Nelson received a lot of the attention, but Pam will be no stranger to leading his team on this stage.
As impressive as the Devils have been offensively this season, which is way impressive considering their 321 rushing yards per game, their defense has been perhaps even more notable. Only three times this season have they given up more than eight points. Those occasions included 28 in their most narrow victory of the season over Palmer, 18 to Ray Brooks and 18 to Falkner in a game where the Devils scored 98.
How The Game Will Be Won
Lumberton has shown they have the ability to knock off a big dog. After all, they did it just last week. In order to win this game, though, they must be better than Simmons at what the Blue Devils do best. The Panthers can’t fall behind and they must run it effectively in order to hold the ball and keep Simmons’s offense on the sidelines.
For Simmons, the recipe is similar. They are facing a team that can run the ball just as effectively and dominantly as they do. That has not been the case very often. Additionally, they are facing just about the only team in the state that can match their confidence and momentum. Lumberton has not only won 11 straight, but they are riding high after a close victory a week ago. The Blue Devils need to build an early lead to show they aren’t what the Panthers have faced down South.
SES Staff Picks:
John Luke McCord-----Simmons
John Macon Gillespie-----Lumberton