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WCCA ready to face Tri-County Academy for Class A state title

Wilkinson County Christian Academy’s Kaleb Sterling makes a carry past Newton County Academy’s Regan Reiss and Alex Harrison during the Rams’ 35-18 win in the MAIS Class A South State championship game last Friday. WCCA will take on Tri-County Academy at 12:30 p.m. today at Millsaps College for the Class A state title. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

WOODVILLE — David Wright said it was like going 100 miles per hour.

The Wilkinson County Christian Academy head football coach has been juggling with the euphoria of his team playing for a state title versus trying to stay levelheaded.

But it’s a good problem to have as WCCA (12-1) has spent all week gearing up for today’s 12:30 p.m. showdown against Tri-County Academy for the MAIS Class A state title game at Millsaps College in Jackson.

“I feel like I can’t catch up,” Wright said. “It’s going by fast, and I want it to slow down.”

Wright said practices have been mostly normal, save for being early in the morning instead of later in the afternoon. But with the students out of school for Thanksgiving and today’s match being at 12:30 p.m., Wright said he wanted to get his kids used to playing football earlier in the day.

“I don’t want them sleeping in and not being ready,” Wright said.

This week’s practice has been a combination of preparing for Tri-County Academy and correcting mistakes from last week’s South State title game against Newton Academy.

“They both have very similar styles of offense,” Wright said. “We didn’t play a flawless game (last week) by any means. Newton kind of opened our eyes to some holes in our defense.”

The most important thing, though, is making sure his players give 100 percent. If they can do that, Wright said he can handle the occasional mistake.

“When the ball snaps, we’re full tilt,” Wright said. “I’ll coach them through the mental or little mistakes, but if we play full tilt, I can’t complain.”

Despite whatever hype is surrounding today’s game, Wright said he’s been impressed with the mindset of his players.

“They’re taking this week as a business trip,” Wright said. “That’s all I can ask for, Our seniors have been the first ones to the weight room and the last ones to leave. You’re talking about seven boys that really don’t want this to be over.”

The seniors include quarterback Taylor Prevost, defensive end Lane Ivy, running back Kaleb Sterling, free safety/running back Austin Goodfellow, linebacker John Norwood, linebacker John James McKlemurry and all-purpose athlete Quincy Thompson.

Though Tri-County Academy may be the favorite heading into today’s game, Wright said his players don’t consider themselves underdogs.

“From what I’m hearing, Tri-County already has the trophy in their front office,” Wright said. “But my kids are convinced we’re one of the best teams in MAIS. Whether it’s Jackson Prep or whoever we take on, we’ll give them a good fight.”

Still, Tri-County is certainly a team to be reckoned with. The Rebels (13-0) will be led by running back Ryan Cothern, who has amassed more than 2,000 yards rushing this season.

“They’re well-coached, and they resemble powerhouse football,” Wright said. “They attack opponents’ weaknesses, and they win the turnover battle.

“Every game, Cothern gets 15 to 20 carries, and he’s a tough kid to bring down. He carries piles, so we’re going to have to gang tackle. They’re a balanced offense, and they throw just as much as they pass.”

WCCA will be going for its first state title since 1988.

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