The Indians, who claimed a 14-6 win at Booneville on Nov. 9, took unbeaten Cleveland East Side to the brink before falling 6-5 in the North semifinals.
“They were big and athletic,” said third-year Head Coach Mike Mattox. “They had as good of athletes as anybody we saw all year.”
Booneville capped it season at 9-3 and claimed its second Division 1-3A title -- first since 2010 -- with a perfect 5-0 mark. The Devils opened the postseason with a 41-20 win over Ruleville Central.
The Blue Devils hope to continue to improve in 2013. Booneville went 5-6 under Mattox in 2010, then followed up with an 8-4 mark -- and a playoff victory -- in season two under the longtime assistant.
Booneville returned five starters on each side of the ball this year and will only have to replace eight seniors -- one of which (Layne Michael) was lost for the season in a Week 2 loss to Corinth.
They responded by averaging 31.8 points and 357 yards per game. Booneville rushed for 2,728 yards and 37 scores and passed for another 1,564 and 15 touchdowns.
Booneville allowed just 210 points (17.5) and finished a plus-10 in turnovers. The Devils had 32 takeaways -- 16 interceptions and fumble recoveries --
Other losses included skill players A.J. Grizzard, Jazz Prather, Khalil Patterson, Daryl Barefield, leading tackler Jordan Miller, and linemen Daniel Hill, Weston Spencer and Ross Smith, who was selected to the All-Star Game.
The Devils dressed 36, including just five freshmen, in their final game of the season. The bulk of the roster -- 24 -- will be eligible to return as juniors or seniors.
“We have a lot to build on with what we have coming back,” said Mattox.
Booneville was 2-2 through its first four games, with the losses coming to 4A Corinth (22-16) and 5A Saltillo, a 34-33 heartbreaker in overtime.
BHS opened the season with a 35-15 win over Walnut. The Devils also played, and beat, Prentiss County rival Baldwyn and 4A Tishomingo County in their non-division slate.
Key returnees include dual-threat quarterback Jack Simpson, who accounted for 1,870 yards and 23 scores while statistically taking part in 280 of the team’s 650 plays. The sophomore passed for 1,392 yards and 13 TDs and was second on the team in the three major rushing categories with 488 yards and 10 scores on 119 attempts.
Running back Zeus Rogers also put up some good numbers in his sophomore season, rushing for 1,405 yards and 13 scores on 205 carries. He had five 100-yard games, including a season-best 240 on just 10 totes in a win over Tishomingo County.
Booneville will welcome back another multi-threat player in Andrew Lambert. The sophomore accounted for 986 yards and 12 TDs from scrimmage, including team bests of 34 catches for 661 yards and six scores.
Lambert also did damage on the other side, racking up a second best 101 tackles. He also scored three times on defense or special teams.
Booneville was paired of with Alcorn Central, Belmont, Holly Springs, Kossuth and Ripley in Division 1-3A. The league could change for the next two seasons with Ripley expected to move up to Class 4A.