FCA grad guides Nanih Waiya to second straight state title

By LAURENCE HILLIARD,

The MHSAA football championship games last Friday and Saturday at the University of Southern Mississippi M.M. Roberts Stadium had a little bit of a local flavor as French Camp Academy graduate James Courtney led his Nanih Waiya Warriors to its second consecutive MHSAA Class 1A State Championship.

The offensive coordinator for the Warriors is Paul Courtney, James’ brother and also an FCA alum.

Here is a class-by-class breakdown of the state championship games:

CLASS 1A

Nanih Waiya fell behind Lumberton 6-0 when Robert Henry ran 50 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. But the Warriors dominated the rest of the way in repeating as state champion with a 28-13 victory.

Nanih Waiya outgained Lumberton 439-204, with 371 yards on the ground. Donovan Turner carried 24 times for 189 yards, Shia Moore 17 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns and Austin Sanders eight times for 62 yards and one TD. Turner also threw a 17-yard scoring pass to Tylan Glass on fourth and seven in the first quarter to give the Warriors a 7-6 lead with the conversion by Jake Vick. Turner was named game MVP.

Henry, Mr. Football for 1A, accounted for all but nine yards of Lumberton’s offense. He carried 22 times for 145 yards and completed seven passes for 50 yards.

Nanih Waiya won 14 straight after losing its first two games against West Lauderdale and Union. Lumberton finishes 12-4.

CLASS 4A

Corinth was nearly unstoppable in rolling up 553 yards, including 389 on the ground, in a 55-21 win over Poplarville for the Warriors’ first state championship. Quarterback Dontayvious Sheffield led the way with 10 carries for 220 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed five of six passes for 134 yards and two TDs and was named game MVP.

Tameron Patterson contributed 22 carries for 134 yards and three TDs and linebacker Carter Bonds led the Corinth defense with 27 tackles.

The teams traded early touchdowns 11 seconds apart. Sheffield ran 49 yards for a TD with 8:16 left in the opening period for a 7-0 Corinth lead. On the first play after the kickoff, Chase Shears had a 66-yard scoring run for Poplarville to tie the game.

But it was all Corinth after that as the Warriors added four more first half TDs for a 34-7 lead at intermission.

Poplarville finished with 374 yards on offense. Shears had 12 carries for 154 yards.

Corinth improved to 14-1. The lone loss came against Tupelo, 38-35, the second game of the season. Poplarville started 1-4, then won eight of nine before losing to Corinth to finish 9-6.

     CLASS 6A

Oxford started slowly in both the season, with a loss in the second game, and the championship game, but finished strong in both cases.

After a 45-17 loss to Starkville in the second game of the season, the Chargers reeled off 13 straight wins. In the title game with Oak Grove, Oxford rebounded from a 21-3 halftime deficit for a 31-21 victory behind the play of John Meagher and J.J Pegues. Meagher ran for 152 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 110 yards and two TDs, both to Pegues who also threw for a two-point conversion and was named game MVP.

It was the Charger defense that really turned the game around. With a 21-16 lead early in the fourth quarter, Oak Grove had a third down at the Oxford one. But two runs came up short, with Pegues making the stop on the fourth down run by quarterback Damon Stewart.

Oxford then went 99 yards to take the lead on a 21-yard pass from Meagher to Pegues. Meagher added a 25-yard TD run with 2:20 left.

It was Oxford’s first state championship after finishing as runner-up four times.

The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for Oak Grove, which finished 11-4. Stewart passed for 239 yards and one touchdown and caught a TD pass.

CLASS 5A

West Point won a fourth consecutive championship and 11th overall, with a 38-26 victory over Picayune.

Picayune pulled within five, 31-26, with 5:55 remaining on a 70-yard pass from Isaac Hickman to Cameron Thomas. But West Point responded with a five-play 63-yard drive, scoring on two-yard run by Kelviontyae Gibbs with 3:54 remaining.

Picayune took its only lead of the game 7-0 on a 73-yard drive with the opening kickoff that ended with a nine-yard run by Cameron Thomas. West Point scored the next three touchdowns before two Picayune TDs made it 21-20 for the Green Wave at the half, the difference being a missed PAT by Picayune.

West Point outgained Picayune 395-305. Dantariyus Cannon carried 13 times for 135 yards for the Green Wave. Thomas had 21 carries for 147 yards for Picayune. He is the state’s leading runner with 3,519 yards and he scored 51 touchdowns.

Picayune, the state’s highest scoring team, was held to its lowest point total of the season, half of the 52-point average entering the game.

West Point finishes 15-1, with a 38-28 loss to Louisville in the second game of the season. Picayune (14-1) was the last remaining unbeaten MHSAA team.

CLASS 3A

Eight games into the season, Jefferson Davis County was 2-6 and in danger of missing the playoffs. But now the Jaguars are state champions for the second time in three years as a result of a 25-15 victory over Noxubee County.

Three wins to end the regular season enabled Jeff Davis to finish third in Region 8-3A. Once in the playoffs, the Jaguars were unstoppable, outscoring five opponents 154-38. That included wins over West Marion and Columbia, teams that beat the Jaguars during the regular season.

Jeff Davis used a big play offense to defeat Noxubee County, scoring touchdowns on a 36-yard pass from Lyric Hall to Keyser Booth and runs of 80 and 42 yards by Booth and 39 yards by Deandre Shorts. Booth had 17 carries for 184 yards in earning game MVP honors.

Marlon Windham was practically the entire offense for Noxubee. He passed for 202 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion and ran for 128 yards.

It is the eighth state championship for Jeff Davis coach Lance Mancuso. Prior to the two at Jeff Davis, he won five titles at Bassfield and one at Seminary.

Both teams finish 10-6.

CLASS 2A

Northside entered the championship game 14-0, having allowed only 34 points. Taylorsville passed that total in three quarters and went on to 49-18 victory for the Tartars’ seventh state title and second in three years.

Taylorsville did it without a big passing game by Ty Keyes. He entered the game with 3,597 yards and 41 TDs through the air, but had only 124 yards and no TDs.

Instead, the Tartars used a strong ground game, with 235 yards. Jeffrey Pittman carried 13 times for 113 yards and three touchdowns, Travis Keyes 11 times for 84 and two TDs and Ty Keyes 10 times for 50 and one TD.

Taylorsville’s first TD came on a 90-yard kickoff return by Tyrese Keyes.

Northside scored touchdowns on its first two possession to lead 12-7 after one quarter. But the Gators did not score again until the fourth quarter and were outgained 359-167.

Taylorsville finishes 15-1, the only blemish a 28-0 loss to Jackson Prep.

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