It’s round two of the MHSAA 6A and 5A football playoffs coming up Friday night with two DeSoto County football teams looking to take the next step toward a possible state championship appearance at Southern Miss on Friday, Nov. 30 (6A) and Saturday, Dec. 1 (5A).
Horn Lake (12-0) hosts Starkville (11-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in a second-round Class 6A clash while Olive Branch (11-1) travels to Holmes County Central (11-1) for a Class 5A second-round contest, also starting at 7 p.m.
Friday’s winners advance to the North Half Championship Games on Friday, Nov. 23 at sites to be determined.
With that in mind, here’s the playoffs round two edition of Friday’s Five Football Things to Remember.
1. QUITE A TURNAROUND: Olive Branch’s opponent Friday night, Holmes County Central, won only two games last year in a 2-9 season record and a seventh-place finish in Region 2-5A. This year, the Jaguars enter Friday’s game with a record of 11-1 overall, first place in the region, and on a eight-game winning streak. This year’s team has beaten two teams Olive Branch has also faced this fall, a 14-13 win against Neshoba Central in the regular season and last week’s 29-14 victory over Lake Cormorant in the playoffs.
Olive Branch also has victories over the same schools, Neshoba Central last week in the playoffs and Lake Cormorant during the regular season.
Holmes County Central was formed in 2014 as the consolidation of Tchula-Marshall, Lexington-McClain and Williams-Sullivan high schools. This year, the former Durant High School was added into the Holmes County Central system.
2. WE LIKE OUR ODDS. Olive Branch has done well playing 6A and 5A teams from Region 2 in the postseason. The Conquistadors have a .762 winning percentage against Region 2 squads, equaling a 16-5 record that dates back to an initial meeting in the 2004 playoffs.
3. WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE. Friday’s opponent for Horn Lake, the Starkville Yellow Jackets, usually have playoff dates figured into their schedule. This season marks the 31st year that Starkville has been in postseason football play, dating back to 1981, including seven of the last eight seasons. Starkville was 13-3 and was last year’s 6A state runner-up, losing to Pearl in a 21-17 state final game. Starkville also has had eight straight winning football seasons, dating back to 2011.
4. DESOTO COUNTY SUCCESS: Starkville also has done well playing teams from DeSoto County. The ’Jackets defeated Horn Lake 35-7 in last season’s only meeting against a DCS school. Starkville’s last loss to a DeSoto County football team was the 28-27 defeat at the hands of Southaven in 2010. Available information dating back to 1981 does not show Starkville ever losing to a Horn Lake football team.
5. RUN, CATCH, PASS. In Friday’s Starkville at Horn Lake game, look for Luke Altmeyer passing (1,952 yards, 19 touchdowns), Rodrigues Clark running (1,268 yards, 22 touchdowns), and Rufus Harvey catching (935 yards, eight touchdowns) for Starkville.
Horn Lake counters with Raydarius Jones passing (1,205 yards, 12 touchdowns), Patrick Gilliam running (877 yards, 10 touchdowns), and Octavious Williams catching (496 yards, five touchdowns). Jones has also contributed to the running game with 744 yards and 11 touchdowns scored, all through 11 games and not including last week’s 19-0 win over Warren Central.
Holmes County Central features Justin Smith passing (1,691 yards, 18 touchdowns), Robert Jackson running (1,582 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Matthew Williams catching (842 yards, four touchdowns).
For Olive Branch, it’s Cole Catledge passing (1,316 yards, 15 touchdowns), Dakota Braswell running (1,035 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Josh Stevenson catching (590 yards, five touchdowns).
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.