Editor's Mailbag: Can anyone challenge West Point in Class 5A?
Updated: Apr 25, 2019
Ryan Melton scores a touchdown in the 2018 5A State Championship game for the West Point
Green Wave. West Point defeated West Jones High School in the game 27-12 to claim
their 10th state title in school history. | Photo by Keith Warren, MHSAA (Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Dec. 1, 2018)
Welcome to the inaugural Editor's Mailbag where I will answer questions posed by fans on Twitter, predominantly about high school football, but occasionally on other topics as well. This will be a regular occurrence in the fall, but we'll visit some questions in the offseason as well as we build up to the 2019 season.
Is there a team in Class 5A North that can upend West Point this season? (@DLMiddleton8)
In short, no.
While I believe teams like Lafayette and Grenada will be strong in 2019, West Point is still poised to be a head above them. The Green Wave also benefit from Olive Branch moving up to Class 6A once again, and looking at the teams in outside of West Point's region in 5A North, I don't see a path for someone getting in the Wave's way until they reach Hattiesburg again this season. I like West Point to win their 11th state title in school history this season, tying South Panola for the most all-time among MHSAA member institutions.
Do you think moving to 5A has an immediate impact on W/L for Columbus? (@DLMiddleton8)
I can read this question two different ways, so I took a stab at both.
For the first, do I believe Columbus will go winless again in 2019? No.
For the second, do I believe Columbus will make the postseason in 2019? No.
I think the Falcons' hire of Josh Pulphus will pay off for the program in the long term, despite him not having a ton of success as head coach at Kemper County in 2017. Pulphus served as tight ends coach under Chris Chambless at West Point last season, and it is almost impossible to come off of the Chambless coaching tree and not be a success. Still, Columbus seemingly has a long way to go as they've gone a combined 2-20 over the last two seasons with one division win in that span.
While I believe Columbus will benefit from dropping to 5A in the sense that they won't go winless, I believe being in a region with teams like West Point, Lafayette and Grenada will keep the Falcons out of the playoffs this year, although this season should be more about progress for the Falcons instead of competing for titles.
Favorite in 3A? (@MackGordonSES)
While I absolutely love what Coach Brad Embry has done at Water Valley, I feel like the general consensus is that Noxubee County is the team to beat in 3A this season. We all know what Noxubee has been capable of in 4A in years past, and dropping down to 3A should, in theory, exacerbate the Tigers' potential for success.
Still, I believe that 3A could be one of the deepest classes in the state this season with teams like Water Valley, North Panola, Jefferson Davis County and Winona expected to be contenders as well. Following 3A will be one of the state's most intriguing storylines in 2019.
Do you believe 2-1A is the toughest region in the state, and which of those teams make the playoffs? (@DLMiddleton8)
It sounds weird to say that a region in 1A might be the toughest in the state, but that very well could be the case until 2021. Region 2-1A features six teams that made the playoffs a season ago and three teams who have historic success in the postseason. Take a look at the layout of the region:
- French Camp*
- Nanih Waiya* (reigning 1A State Champion)
- West Lowndes
* Made the postseason in 2018
Even the three schools who didn't make the playoffs last year (Hamilton, Vardaman and West Lowndes) have a combined 51 playoff appearances since Mississippi adopted a playoff system in 1981. In the early 1980s, Hamilton also won 51-straight games which stood as a Mississippi record until broken by South Panola in 2006.
To answer the question of who makes the playoffs out of this region, I can legitimately say I have no idea. I like Nanih Waiya to repeat as the 1A State Champion, so I obviously think the Warriors make the postseason, but the rest is a mystery. I believe that Okolona, Smithville, Noxapater and French Camp have the strongest shot on paper, but if the cards fall right, really all of these nine teams have a chance. The bottom line, however, is that at least two teams who would make the postseason on a normal year will be left out this season, making this region a bloodbath. If anything, it will make for some interesting football for the next few years.
Who is the team changing classifications most likely to make some playoff noise this season? (@SocialSportsMs)
I think the obvious answer is Noxubee, but since we've already discussed that situation, I'll take a look at some others.
I think two teams to really keep an eye on this season are Baldwyn and Charleston. Baldwyn dropped from 2A to 1A after narrowly missing the 1-2A title last season, and Charleston, fresh off a 3-3A title, is making the transition to 2A in 2019.
I don't believe Baldwyn is the best team in 1A North, but I do think that any time a school drops down a classification, there is potential for a playoff run. Charleston, however, poses a very interesting situation, and I think the Tigers could be a legitimate contender for 2A North this season.
Also worth keeping an eye on is that all three schools in Pontotoc County (Pontotoc, North Pontotoc and South Pontotoc) are in 4A this season with Pontotoc and South Pontotoc being in the same region. North and South could experience some growing pains as they move up a level, but it will be interesting to see the storyline of 4A having a large focus in the same county.
Better HS football team: Odessa [Permian] High ("Friday Night Lights") or T.C. Williams ("Remember the Titans")? (@ngabler4)
This is such a quality question.
I believe both teams are elite, but I have to give the nod to T.C. Williams, considering they overcome such a tense situation with integration and wind up forming a feel-good story around their season. Plus, T.C. Williams wins the state title in the end of their film, whereas Permian falls just short. The off-field adversity faced by T.C. Williams gives them the nod in my mind along with the fact that Sunshine has the arm to lead any team to the Promised Land. Plus, "Remember the Titans" gave us some great quotes, such as this:
Blue Stanton: Coach we need a water break, we been out here all day!
Coach Boone: What did you say?
Blue Stanton: Said, we need a water break.
Coach Boone: A water break? Water is for cowards. Water makes you weak. Water is for washing blood off that uniform and you don't get no blood on my uniform, boy you must be outside your mind! We are going to do up-downs, until Blue is no longer tired and thirsty.
Does Tiger's Masters win mean the Braves automatically win the World Series this year? (@kbrass96)
It's a prophecy. I'm speaking it into existence.
While the Braves may not be World Series ready this season, it's worth noting that every time Tiger has won the Masters in years past (1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005), the Braves have gone on to win the NL East. Of course, the Braves were also in the midst of 14-straight division titles in that span, so take that with a grain of salt.
With Braves Twitter's deification of Tiger Woods this season, however, why not claim it as a positive omen and go on to win the fall classic?
Contact John Macon at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @JMakeSES.