With four area prep teams still alive in the MHSAA football playoffs- Corinth, Biggersville, Walnut and Booneville- I will split the teams up and cover two of them in this edition of postseason previews. Summaries for the remaining two will follow in Friday’s Daily Corinthian sports pages.
Today we take a look at a first round matchup as well as a second rounder in which both participants enjoyed first round byes.
We’ll start at Biggersville where the Lions are seeking their first ever trip to the state championship game.
West Lowndes (5-5) @ Biggersville (10-0)
The Lions enter the playoffs with a spotless 10-0 record with their ninth and tenth wins coming by forfeit against Byers and Thrasher, both due to COVID concerns with both division opponents.
This marks another first for the Biggersville football program, which had never before completed a regular season unbeaten.
The past two games in this series have been owned by the Lions as BHS crushed the Panthers 44-6 in the first round of the 2019 playoffs and cruised to a 49-16 regular season division win in 2018.
Prior to that West Lowndes had the upper hand, winning six straight games between 2005 and 2016 with an average score of 43-6, including a pair of shutouts.
The Lions last win prior to the Panthers six-game streak came in 2004 when they topped WLHS 28-18 in a regular season contest. Biggersville and West Lowndes have been division-mates numerous times over the past 20-30 years.
Lions head coach Stan Platt, who will sail off into retirement following Biggersville’s final game this season, has always held to the same philosophy of winning no matter the opponent.
“Our goal is to be 1-0 this week,” he always says. “To do that we have to practice well, play well in all phases of the game, win the lines of scrimmage and win the turnover battle.”
The maroon-and-white have been successful all year doing those very things. In their closest game to date, a 46-21 home win over TCPS in the season opener, the Lions forced normally-potent Eagles QB Khi Holiday into three interceptions. Holiday, a diminutive 5-9, 160-pound senior, threw for 260 yards and a pair of TD’s in that contest but the Biggersville defense kept pressure on him the entire game and were never seriously threatened.
In an interesting side-note, TCPS will host Ashland in a first-round playoff game Friday in Tupelo. If both the Lions and Eagles are victorious Biggersville would host the rematch next Friday, Nov. 20 at the Lions Den.
Biggersville fans are well aware of the offensive exploits of senior running back Goldman Butler, quarterback Drew Rowsey and wide receiver Zae Davis to name a few. However, as hard as it may be to believe, the Lions defense has been even better. As a team Biggersville has compiled 13 interceptions (with Davis and Dylan Rowsey leading the way with three apiece), 21 sacks (Di’Renzo Shields leads with 11 total), 44 TFL for minus-177 yards and 21 pass breakups. Of Biggersville’s 13 steals four have been returned for touchdowns.
It’s been hard for anyone, including high-flying and high-scoring TCPS, to move the ball and punch it in the end zone against the Lions this fall.
The Panthers have outscored their opponents 266-188 while Biggersville owns the state lead for points scored with 444 thru eight games, an average of 55.5 points per actual game. TCPS is second with 442 points thru nine actual games played. The Lions are also the state leaders having allowed only 46 total points.
Most expect a one-sided game Friday with a Lions/Eagles rematch next week looming ahead.
Kent’s pick: Biggersville
West Lauderdale (8-3) @ Corinth (6-3)
With the Biggersville/West Lowndes game expected to be practically over by halftime, this one has a different flavor and could be an extremely close affair, depending on which Warrior team shows up.
If it’s the one that showed up to play in the two biggest games of the season against New Albany and Ripley then Corinth should come out on top, although nothing is a given. If it’s the team that came out flat and stayed that way in a regular season-ending loss to North Pontotoc two weeks ago then they will be in serious trouble.
I would like to think the CHS players and coaches have put the loss to the Vikings in the rear view mirror and are determined now, more than ever, to show that was a fluke.
Corinth and West Lauderdale, both currently ranked among the top-5 teams in class 4A, have never met on the football field, although the schools have a history in baseball and basketball. Most recently, the Knights won the 4A state baseball best-of-three championship 2-1 over the Warriors while the CHS basketball team won the 1993 3A state title over the Knights.
The two schools came oh-so-close to facing each other last year in the 4A football playoffs. Had it not been for a last-second Itawamba AHS field goal to win 9-7 over WLHS in Collinsville, Corinth and West Lauderdale would have played in the North Half semifinals.
“They (Knights) are a solid, physical, well-coached team that will come in here expecting to win,” said Warriors head coach Todd Lowery. “They remind me a lot of New Albany from our division although the Bulldogs running back duo is probably better.”
Lowery said the similarities don’t stop there because, just like New Albany, “West Lauderdale’s quarterback can throw the ball effectively all over the field, just like New Albany.”
Teams with veteran lines have given Corinth issues this season, as evidenced by two teams, New Albany and North Pontotoc, piling up north of 300 yards on the ground. Even Kossuth’s passing game gave the Tribe fits earlier in the season with KHS senior QB Brock Seago going for 214 yards and three touchdowns. And Corinth fans need not be reminded of the job MRS’s senior quarterback Zach Beasley did on them with 332 yards and four TD’s thru the air.
Corinth needs to win the lines of scrimmage if they wanna win and continue their season with hopes of defending their 4A state championship. They also need to hand on to the ball, create some West Lauderdale turnovers and have the mentality of “no one is coming in our back yard and winning again this year.”
Kent’s pick: Corinth