• John Macon Gillespie

Quarterbacks Collide: Mills vs. Shephard

If October is the month for pitching duels, then consider November the month of quarterback duels. Tonight two of the best signal callers the state has to offer will square off in the second round of the 3A playoffs.

Senior Clark Mills lifted North Pontotoc to a division title this season, while throwing for the second most yards in Mississippi(3,212). On top of that, he led the team with 807 yards and 17 scores on the ground. All in all, he’s accounted for 50 total touchdowns.

Houston leans heavily on their senior signal caller Urriah Shephard, but not only for what he does on the offensive side. He’s picked off three passes so far this year, which is tied for a team high, to go along with his 47 tackles and two sacks. Shephard has also thrown for 1,247 yards and seven touchdowns this season. However, it’s been his team-high 1,621 yards and 23 scores on the ground that has been the most helpful to the Toppers this season.

“He’s probably one of the top quarterbacks in the state,” Shephard told SES Mississippi. “I think he knows so much, being a veteran and having seen so many defenses. You have to gameplan against him correctly.”

“We met at a couple of camps this year and got pretty close fast,” Mills said when asked about Shephard. “I think he’s a run-first guy. He’s listed as an athlete, but I think people underestimate his throwing ability.”

Both players have contributed to their respective programs for multiple seasons now. So it’s fitting that both are putting together spectacular senior campaigns. That’s not just evidenced by their numbers, though, as both teams are true contenders to win 3A.

North Pontotoc enters this game riding an eight-game winning streak, while Houston has won five in a row.

“I’m letting the games come to me, not trying to do too much and playing within the system,” Mills explained. “It’s a great feeling to be having one great last run. Right now we are focused on that golden ball and that’s it.”

“This season kind of reminds me of my sophomore season. Both have been challenging and exciting,” Shephard said when asked about playing so much on both sides. “It has been one to remember. Something I’ll never forget.”

Both players have had a special impact on their communities. They mean more than just rushing or passing touchdowns. They have been leaders, examples, mentors and more. But tonight, one of their careers will be over, at least on the prep level. Needless to say, we’ll see everything they have in the tank on the field in this one. It’s sort of fitting that one must pass the other to move on and challenge for a ring.

It’s Houston at North Pontotoc. Kickoff at 7pm.

“I’m going to have to lay it all out there, not hold back and play every snap like it’s my last,” Shephard stated.

“I have to play smart and fast, make no mistakes and make big plays for the team,” Mills said.

The winner moves on to face the winner of Water Valley at Yazoo County.

#NorthPontotoc #Houston #JohnLukeMcCord

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