Area teams prepare for playoff matchups Friday

Published 12:01 am Thursday, November 6, 2014

CENTREVILLE — After putting up 73 points in a first-round win over Hartfield Academy, the Centreville Academy Tigers will have a much tougher opponent this week in the quarterfinals of the MAIS Class AA State Playoffs.

The No. 1 seed and top-ranked Tigers will play host to the No. 9 seed River Oak School Mustangs Friday with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. River Oaks (7-4) got by No. 8 seed Winona Christian School 43-42 last week.

“They have a very solid team. They have 15 seniors, so they’ve got a lot of senior leadership,” Centreville assistant coach Brian Stutzman said. “They play hard. They’re a very good football team.”

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River Oaks will run a spread offense, which for the most part this season has been 60 percent run and 40 percent pass.

“They mix it up pretty good. Some games they’re just the opposite. They have a quarterback that throws the ball well and receivers who can get it. They have a fullback who’s a load to bring down,” Stutzman said.

With the kind of offense that the Mustangs runs, Stutzman said the Tigers’ defense will have to stay disciplined and focused.

“Don’t second guess and tackle,” Stutzman added.

When Centreville’s offense has the ball, the Tigers will try to go after River Oaks’ 4-3 defense.

“They’re good at it. They have a large defensive front that really attacks the football,” Stutzman said. “We’re going to do what they give us. We have to run the ball. If the situation arises, we’ll throw it. We’ve been blessed to do both this season.”

As for how practice has gone early in the week, Stutzman said, “We had a good day of practice Monday. Nice cool weather. It definitely helps a lot. The kids are excited.”

Forest at Franklin County

MEADVILLE — Not many people outside of Franklin County — not just the high school, but the entire county — expected the Bulldogs to be in this position in Anthony Hart’s first season as their head coach – MHSAA Division 7-3A champions.

And if that wasn’t enough, Franklin County beat the two teams that competed not only for the division title but the Class 3A South State title last year — Wilkinson County and Hazlehurst. The Bulldogs did that in back-to-back weeks, too, on their way to running the table in the always-competitive Division 7-3A.

Now the Bulldogs (7-3) will ride a six-game winning streak into the first round of the MHSAA Class 3A South State Playoffs when they play host to the Division 5-3A No. 4 seed Forest High School Bearcats (6-5) at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Bearcats went 3-2 in Division 5-3A, but ended up in fourth because of a 27-13 loss on Oct. 17 to Raleigh High School, which also ended up with a 3-2 division mark and eventually the division’s No. 3 seed. A week later, the Bearcats upset division champion Choctaw County 31-21 on the road.

“They’re a really deep team. They beat the team that won their region. We’re possibly playing the best team in that region,” Hart said.

Offensively, the Bulldogs will rely on quarterback De’Martre Collins, running back Benard Selmon and a strong offensive line to keep Forest’s offense on the sidelines.

Wilkinson County at Philadelphia

WOODVILLE — About two and a half weeks ago, Wilkinson County High School’s playoff hopes appeared to be in the rear view mirror. The Wildcats were 2-7 overall and with a dismal 0-3 record in MHSAA Division 7-3A, they were on the outside looking in.

Even a win over Crystal Springs didn’t give Wilkinson County much promise of making the postseason. But that all changed last Friday night when the Wildcats stunned Wesson High School 33-6 and Jefferson County High School lost to Franklin County. Out were the Tigers and in were the Wildcats on point differential after both teams finished 2-3 in division play.

Not only that, Wilkinson County’s over Wesson enabled the Wildcats (4-7) to claim the division’s No. 3 seed. The bad news comes when they have to travel to Philadelphia in the first round of the MHSAA Class 3A South State Playoffs to take on a Tornadoes team that may not be in the best of moods after what happened to them last week. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

LaSalle at Block

JONESVILLE — Second place in LHSAA District 3-1A and playoff seeding will be on the line Friday night when the Block High School Bears play host to the LaSalle High School Tigers. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.

Block (4-5, 3-1) is coming off a 30-6 win at Montgomery High School and is currently in second place by itself in the district after LaSalle (6-3, 2-2) lost to district champion St. Mary’s 38-7.

In the Class 1A power ratings that came out Tuesday morning, LaSalle is at No. 11 while Block is at No. 12. Unless one team beats the other by a lot of points, both teams will likely host first-round playoff games next week.

And the LaSalle team that will show up for this district clash will be different from the ones that Block has faced in recent years.

“They’ve got more skill players. They’ve got good team speed. Their wide receivers, running backs and quarterback all have good speed,” Block head coach Benny Vault Jr. said. “They have Kenneth Smith and T’keil Smith, who are brothers. Kenneth is a senior. He’s been pretty good for them last couple of years. They’ve got him at quarterback this year. They’ve both got good speed.”

Vault said that practice has gone good so far this week. On Monday, the Bears had just one practice and that focus was on the defense.

“It was recognition stuff,” Vault said. “We’re making a few changes. Putting a few players back in their original positions. It wasn’t a long practice.”

LaSalle will run its offense out of the spread formation while on defense the Tigers will try to confuse Block’s offense with various formations — a 4-2-5, a 4-3 and perhaps a five-man front.

“They look to be physical,” Vault said.

Even though Block is led by wingbacks Raymond Plummer and Taylor Perron-Krause as well as fullback Kendrick Curry, the Bears will look to throw the ball more with quarterback Vyn’quez O’Steen.