• John Macon Gillespie

Editor's Recap: Day One of MHSAA State Championships

Water Valley's state championship trophy |

Photo by John Macon Gillespie (Nov. 30, 2018)

Day one of the MHSAA football state championships is in the books, and historic milestones were reached today in Hattiesburg. Two state title droughts came to a close and the longest win streak in the state was snapped. Let's take a brief look at today's action.

3A State Championship: Water Valley 34, Seminary 28

Our highest-scoring matchup of the day saw Water Valley take home the hardware in its first state title since 1990 and just its second in school history.

In his 11th season as head coach, Brad Embry led his team through thick and thin this season, including leading his team to a revenge win over North Panola last week in the North Half Finals.

Water Valley was led, as they have been all season, by Jacob Truss and Bud Tolbert who combined for four touchdowns through the air. Those four scores accounted for Tolbert's only receptions of the day and gave him 100 receiving yards.

Seminary stuck to its bread and butter: the run game. The Bulldogs put up 335 yards rushing against the esteemed Blue Devil defense and made things interesting late in the game, but failed to recover an onside kick in the fourth quarter to keep their hopes alive.

Water Valley returns a loaded roster in 2019 and could be an early favorite to compete for 3A North Half once again.

1A State Championship: Nanih Waiya 21, Simmons 18

Nanih Waiya's state championship trophy |

Photo by John Macon Gillespie (Nov. 30, 2018)

Simmons' last two losses have come to teams that wear maroon and white: East Webster in the 2014 playoffs and Nanih Waiya in the 2018 State Title.

Simmons' win streak was snapped at 54, and their state title streak was snapped at three. The Blue Devils had success on deep passes most of the night against the Warriors, and quarterback Tyderius Gipson racked up 230 passing yards and one touchdown. The downfall for Simmons was its lack of effectiveness in the red zone. The Blue Devils had two goal-to-go opportunities in the second half and came away with zero points.

This was a revenge game for Nanih Waiya who blew a two-touchdown lead in last year's state championship game against Simmons. Although the Warrior defense struggled containing the speed of Simmons at times, they bowed up when it mattered and got the job done. The last two 1A State Championship games have been decided by a total of five points, and each of these two teams have a golden ball to their name as a result.

A Simmons player after the loss in the state championship game |

Photo by John Macon Gillespie (Nov. 30, 2018)

Although Simmons loses some of its key talent in Gipson and DeMarrius Turner this season, they have a tendency to reload rather than rebuild. Nanih Waiya returns key players like Donovan Turner and Shia Moore, and with the Warriors moving to 1A North next season and Simmons to the South, we could see these two meet at state again representing a different side.

6A State Championship: Horn Lake 31, Oak Grove 27

Horn Lake's first state championship trophy in school history |

Photo by John Macon Gillespie (Nov. 30, 2018)

This was one of the wildest and weirdest-feeling games I've ever been a part of.

At times, this one felt like a shootout, but at others, it felt like a slugfest. Both offenses seemed to benefit from big plays, and both mobile quarterbacks, John Rhys Plumlee of Oak Grove and Raydarious Jones of Horn Lake, used their feet to escape pressure and pick up yards all night.

Both defenses, however, seemed to have their share of fun, as well. When there were no big plays to be found offensively, these defenses thrived and allowed little-to-nothing.

The game came down to the final two minutes in which Oak Grove was working downfield to try and reclaim the lead, but Elite 10 quarterback John Rhys Plumlee was picked off on that possession, and Horn Lake secured the win.

The Eagles were led by Raydarious Jones (QB), Patrick Gilliam (RB) and Mr. Elite-finalist Nakobe Dean (LB). These three along with their supporting cast lifted the Eagles to previously unknown heights this season and did so again in the state championship. This is Horn Lake's first state championship appearance and win in school history.


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