MHSAA 3A football semifinals preview: Magee, Noxubee look unstoppable

The MHSAA North and South Championships are finally here, and the 3A matchups feature four great teams who have just three on-field losses among them. Here’s a look at the 3A football games set for this Friday night.

3A North

Winona (11-1) at Noxubee County (9-1)

PICK THE WINNER | 3A FOOTBALL BRACKET

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Winona
Round 1: Beat Kossuth 48-33
Round 2: Beat Senatobia 52-49
Round 3: Beat Amory 45-35

Noxubee County
Round 1: Beat Byhalia 54-6
Round 2: Beat Booneville 32-8
Round 3: Beat North Panola 39-14

KEY PLAYERS

Winona
QB JeKeyvian Burnley — 801 total yards, 15 total TD
RB Deriaun Townsend — 1,074 total yards, 12 TD
LB Khristian Williams — 35 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FR

Noxubee County
RB Bobby Shanklin — 1,047 total yards, 10 TD
WR/DB Anthony Little — 43 catches, 627 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
DL Travoris Hatcher — 50 tackles, 19 TFL, 13 sacks

THE SKINNY:

Most people expected Noxubee County to get back to the 3A North Final, but few had Winona pegged as the other team to emerge as a contender out of Region 3.

Winona had three of its nine regular-season games wiped out by COVID-19, but was the recipient of forfeits in all three. They are the biggest unknown going into this game, with an offense that has yet to score fewer than 32 points in a game and averaged 51.7 in three playoff contests.

If defense wins championships, then Noxubee is in good shape. The Tiger defense hasn’t given up more than two touchdowns in a game all season. Noxubee County’s ball-control offense is built around arguably the best back in 3A in Bobby Shanklin.

We’ll get to answer the age-old question of what happens when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object after Friday night.

PICK THE WINNER | 3A FOOTBALL BRACKET

3A South

Columbia (10-2) at Magee (10-0)

PICK THE WINNER | 3A FOOTBALL BRACKET

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Columbia
Round 1: Beat Velma Jackson 34-12
Round 2: Beat Hazlehurst 22-0
Round 3: Beat West Marion 18-13

Magee
Round 1: Beat Yazoo County 43-0
Round 2: Beat Morton 27-10
Round 3: Beat Raleigh 35-0

KEY PLAYERS

Columbia
No stats available

Magee
QB/DB Chandler Pittman — 2,770 total yards, 34 total TD, 34 tackles, 5 TFL
WR/DB Xavier Franks — 63 catches, 1,026 yards, 11 TD, 13 tackles, 1 INT
LB Javon “Jody” Durr — 97 tackles, 24 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 INT

THE SKINNY:

We don’t know much about Columbia, other than they’ve been very good under third-year coach Chip Bilderback. The Tigers opened the season by soundly beating Mendenhall, which will play for 4A South State Friday night, and were nearly flawless the rest of the year.

The Wildcats avenged their only on-field loss of the season last week, beating West Marion 18-13 after losing to them 7-6 in the regular season. Their defense has given up just nine touchdowns in nine games.

Magee hasn’t lost a game all year. They are 10-0 on the field and 11-0 overall thanks to a forfeit from this same Columbia team on Oct. 30. Trojan quarterback Chandler Pittman is an incredible athlete who was recently named 3A Mr. Football for 2020.

The key matchup here is whether or not the Trojan defense can slow down a Columbia offense that has averaged 30.2 points a game. If not, this one is going to be a shootout.

PICK THE WINNER | 3A FOOTBALL BRACKET

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