There are three DeSoto County prep football teams remaining in the Mississippi high school postseason, as Horn Lake, Olive Branch and Lake Cormorant all survived first round challenges last Friday night.
The list will drop quickly by at least one, however, this week, as victories by Olive Branch and Lake Cormorant set them on a collision course for this Friday’s second-round Class 5A meeting at Lake Cormorant.
Meanwhile Horn Lake’s successful season meets a stiff challenge this Friday when the Eagles travel to Starkville for a second-round meeting in Class 6A.
The schedule also assures that at least one county squad will remain in the hunt for a state championship once Friday’s action is completed.
HORN LAKE 20, NORTHWEST RANKIN 7. The Cougars (8-4) came in as the strong favorite in this one, especially by the Central Mississippi pundits who all predicted a Northwest Rankin victory.
However, the Eagles, a team struggling a bit after six straight wins to start the year, proved them wrong in a solid performance at home.
Raydarius Jones quarterbacked Horn Lake to a pair of touchdowns, a 56-yard run up the middle of the Cougars’ defense with 6:52 left in the first quarter and again on a 32-yard run midway through the third quarter of play, as Horn Lake won the second straight week.
After a fumble recovery that was brought into end zone for Northwest Rankin’s only score of the night, running back Tyler Grim finished off the Cougars with a one-yard blast with nine minutes remaining to clinch the contest.
“All week, we talked about the word ‘opportunity,’” said Horn Lake coach Brad Boyette. “Every play was a new opportunity and I just think we took advantage of more of those than they did.”
In the air, Jones threw two interceptions, but on the ground, he ran 15 times for 151 yards.
“He’s been battling injuries since about game six,” Boyette said. “He’s about to get back to full speed. He’s not full speed right now but he’s a lot closer and he makes our team go.”
Meanwhile Grim led the offense with 189 yards in 32 carries. Horn Lake will carry a 9-2 record into this Friday night’s meeting with the Yellowjackets at Starkville.
“They’re another great opponent,” Boyette said about the Yellowjackets. “That’s what the playoffs are all about. It’s not supposed to be easy but each day now is another opportunity to get better.”
The Eagles also carry the banner of MHSAA 6A-1 now, as all the region teams in the playoffs all lost last Friday evening, except for Horn Lake.
OLIVE BRANCH 21, VICKSBURG 6. Olive Branch ran its record to 11-1 for the year with Friday’s Class 5A playoff win at home over Vicksburg (5-7), a game marred by an on-field fight between players with a little over one minute remaining that forced an early end to the contest.
With the Conquistadors leading late in the game and in possession of the ball, a punch was thrown and a Vicksburg lineman was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the punch. As players converged, another punch was thrown and a melee ensued. Instead of allowing the game to continue under those circumstances, officials ended the contest to avoid a further incident.
Olive Branch held the Vicksburg Gators to five first downs in the win. Quarterback Cole Catledge threw for 84 yards and Demarcus Ware II ran for 133 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Ware also caught two passes for 24 yards and had 26 yards in punt return yardage. Olive Branch has won its last four in a row.
LAKE CORMORANT 16, CLEVELAND CENTRAL 7. The Gators (6-6) knocked off the previously-undefeated Wolves (12-1) in a solid road performance for Lake Cormorant’s third win in a row, propelling them into this week’s meeting with Olive Branch.
Quarterback Ben Rohrbacher threw for 135 yards on just four completions, but tossed a pair of touchdowns in the Lake Cormorant victory.
On the ground, Brian Jackson continued to be the main part of the Gators’ attack, running for 127 yards. Xavier Malone caught two passes for 104 yards and a touchdown and Jalen Jordan also caught two passes for 31 yards and the other score. Malone’s touchdown reception came on a 71-yard pass play.
STARKVILLE 6, SOUTHAVEN 0. The Chargers’ season came to an end Friday, but Southaven held a strong Starkville offense to just two field goals in a 6-0 Yellowjackets victory.
Quarterback Malik Brown threw for 193 yards for Starkville but also threw two interceptions in the contest. Cameron Hines caught nine passes for 107 yards and Rodrigues Clark ran for 102 yards.
The Chargers, held to just 99 yards in total offense, finish the year having lost two of its last three and four of its last six contests, dating back to a 44-14 loss to Tupelo on Oct. 6.
Starkville also missed three other field goal attempts in the victory.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.