MHSAA 1A Football Semifinals Preview: Is Simmons back in the driver’s seat?

We’re down to four teams left in the MHSAA Class 1A Football Playoffs, and it’s anyone’s game. The North State finale features a team that is very familiar with playing into December against a team in uncharted territory, while the South matchup features two teams with explosive offenses.

Here’s a look at both games, and what to expect this weekend.

1A North

Simmons (12-0) at Tupelo Christian (11-2)

The MHSAA Class 1A North State Final features two programs who approach the game from very different perspectives.

Simmons is the three-time state champion, having won the title in 2015, 2016 and 2017 under coach Tavares Johnson. Tupelo Christian is in its fifth season competing in the MHSAA and is 3-4 in its previous four playoff appearances.

That said, the Eagles aren’t as big of an underdog as you would think. Tupelo Christian comes in riding an 11-game winning streak and has scored 40 or more points in its last eight games. 

The offense is led by quarterback Jake Prather, who has passed for 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns, and tailback Emmanual Randle, who has averaged 8.6 yards on 90 carries with a team-high 11 touchdowns.

Simmons counters with a downhill rushing attack led by 1A Mr. Football Vontrez Rush.

Expect a knock-down drag-out in Tupelo.

1A South

Bay Springs (12-1) at West Lowndes (11-2)

Bay Springs has been absolutely dominant this year outside of a 26-12 loss to 2A powerhouse Scott Central back on Sept. 17. The Bulldogs have won their other 12 games by a combined score of 386-32.

Nobody has been able to come up with a way to stop juniors Tyrick Jones and Anthony Ross, the tailback duo who have combined to rush for 1,865 yards and 21 touchdowns. The Bulldog defense has pitched six shutouts and held three other opponents to single-digits.

West Lowndes lost two out of three games to start the season (against Biggersville and Tupelo Christian), but has roared back with 10 wins in a row behind an explosive offense led by senior quarterback Fred Rice and paced by junior tailback Jaquavious Tate.

We’re expecting a shootout this weekend in Columbus.

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