Centreville-OFA highlights playoff week among Miss-Lou preps

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Here’s another chance, just in case you missed the first one.

It’s the Centreville-Oak Forest rematch this week for the Class AA South State championship, which Friday night will be three weeks removed from that meeting in Amite, La., when the Tigers took a surprising 27-6 win over the Yellow Jackets.

Now they will meet again thanks to the Tigers’ 14-0 win over Adams Christian and Oak Forest’ 28-17 win over Central Hinds with plenty more at stake than in that first meeting.

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The winner, ahem, gets the unenviable task of likely facing Simpson Academy in the state championship.

&uot;It’s going to be very, very difficult to come back and play them again,&uot; Centreville head coach Bill Hurst said.

&uot;We played Oak Forest a couple of weeks ago, and it’s going to be very difficult to come back and get up to play with the intensity we’re going to have to play. We’re going to have to step it up.&uot;

The Tigers head up a playoff week for five remaining schools in the Miss-Lou and only two who will play at home. Block will open the playoffs at home against Delta after getting into the Class 1A playoffs as the No. 13 seed.

Travel plans this week include Vidalia at Port Barre, Franklin County at Forest and Cathedral at Scott Central.

The Centreville-OFA matchup may be the most intriguing. Not many folks gave the Tigers much chance to go to Oak Forest and win Oct. 22, but they did thanks to a defense that is much improved.

The Yellow Jackets stumbled to finish the regular season with a loss at Copiah Academy, but they bounced back with the win over 3-AA champion Central Hinds in Raymond to advance to the South State championship for the fourth straight year.

&uot;We’re ready for them,&uot; CA quarterback Jennings Field said. &uot;They’re going to come out with more than they had last time. Any trick plays or whatever, we’ve got to be ready.&uot;

Said senior Jake Peairs: &uot;It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be really, really tough. They’ve got a good football team.&uot;

The sub-plot to the whole matchup is Hurst and Oak Forest Jason Brabham getting another chance to face each other again and for the first time in the playoffs. The Tigers’ win in that first matchup was Hurst’s first over Brabham, a Centreville graduate and former assistant coach who left to take over the program at Oak Forest.

Brabham had won the previous four meetings between the two until then.

&uot;Jason does a good job with his football team, and he has good talent,&uot; Hurst said. &uot;It’s going to be a heck of a ball game.&uot;

THEY CAN PASS, TOO &045; It may be the added threat that really gives opposing coaches fits when they try to defend Centreville Academy, which has long been a grind-it-out team behind offensive linemen that could be mistaken for RVs.

It was the main threat when the Tigers had tackle Will Arnold, the Mack-truck like standout who is now on the depth charts at LSU. But on Friday the Tigers went with the pass and Field while still pounding it out with Blake Devall in the backfield.

The Tigers pounded it in their first two drives of the game against the Rebels Friday night but found immediate success in the air. On the second play of the second quarter, Field hit a wide-open Tal Priest for a 68-yard touchdown that let some of the air out of the Rebels.

Up until then Adams Christian had serious success moving the ball on the ground with their second drive stalling out at the Centreville 8.

&uot;When we see them stacking up in the box, we like to throw early on first or second down,&uot; Field said. &uot;It really catches them off guard. I rolled out and flushed to the right, and the defense came up. I think they thought I was going to run, and I saw Tal come open and was able to get the ball to him.&uot;

It spoiled what was started out as a solid game defensively from the Rebels, who gave up 142 yards to Devall during the two teams’ meeting in Week 1. Devall finished Friday night with 133 yards on 27 carries but had just 54 at halftime.

&uot;I thought we did,&uot; Walters said. &uot;We were stunting a little bit. They kind of picked it up. Devall is awfully good, and they’ve got a good football team. We had a busted coverage on that first touchdown.

&uot;We have to tip our hats to them. They’re not 11-1 for no reason. I kept thinking we were right there, and I think our players thought that, too.&uot;

Field hit Devall on the second touchdown in the third quarter, but it was nearly picked off. Field’s 34-yard pass was tipped up by AC defender David Trisler, but it landed right behind him in Devall’s hands for the score for the 14-0 lead.

&uot;We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to win,&uot; Field said. &uot;If that’s going to catch teams off guard, that’s what we’re going to do. I saw (Devall) come open, and I didn’t want to overthrow him. I underthrew him a little bit, and Blake was able to catch the ball and pull it down.&uot;

TURNING POINT &045; The Rebels had two chances at getting it into the end zone, but the first one was one they may remember the most.

After a productive first drive of the game that netted two first downs with seven plays, the Rebels had a 28-yard pass from Timmy Foster to Ray Simpson to get to the Centreville 32.

Lee Dellinger and Heath Williams took turns running the ball before the Rebels got a fourth-and-inches at the Centreville 8, but Williams was stopped at the line of scrimmage.

&uot;It could have been a different ball game,&uot; Hurst said. &uot;It looked like every time we turned around they were punting the ball and putting us on our end of the field. Jennings does such a good job, and we’ve got good receivers. That really helped our offense.&uot;

PLAYOFF BOUND &045; Vidalia had already secured a playoff spot coming into Friday’s game against Vidalia, but that wasn’t enough for the Vikings.

They used two Brett Hinson touchdowns to knock off their rivals the Trojans and secure the No. 21 seed in the Class 2A playoffs. Vidalia will head south Friday to face No. 12 seed Port Barre.

&uot;We do have to go on the road, but we don’t have to go to (No. 2) Sterlington or (No. 4) West St. John,&uot; Vidalia head coach Dee Faircloth said. &uot;We’ll take that any time. The last couple years we were up at the top, and we just didn’t want to have to play one of those teams.&uot;

Faircloth’s players were ecstatic about the win and about the way they played, slogging their way through a tough offensive night and holding the Trojans to a single score.

&uot;This feels real good,&uot; Viking quarterback Brett Hinson said. &uot;We beat Ferriday, and we got a better seed in the playoffs.&uot;

For Ferriday, things weren’t so good. The Trojans knew coming into the game that they had to win to make the top 32 teams in the 2A power rankings to make the playoffs. With the loss, Ferriday dropped to No. 34 from No. 31.

Ferriday head coach James McFarland was philosophical about missing the playoffs. He said his team had struggled throughout the season and could never manage to overcome costly mistakes.

&uot;I just wish (Vidalia) luck in the playoffs,&uot; McFarland said.

(Christian Schmidt contributed to this report.)