The collision most high school football fans, especially those connected with Olive Branch, expected would happen will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday night.
That’s when the 12-1 Conquistadors make the trek to West Point to meet the 13-0 Green Wave in the MHSAA 5A North Half finals for what is expected to be a monumental meeting on a high school gridiron.
The mission for the Quistors is to not allow what happened on the same field last month take place again.
The Oct. 13 contest that ended with a 51-7 loss to West Point is the only blemish on an otherwise perfect season for Olive Branch.
Olive Branch seeks to also keep their football season going one more week to Saturday, Dec. 2 at Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in the 5A championship game.
The task for the Conquistadors is a daunting one, facing a perennial power at the 5A level in the Green Wave, which last year won it all with a 14-1 record.
It will also be a meeting where West Point has had the better of the two in the overall series, having won four of the six previous meetings between the schools.
While the Green Wave have been traditionally strong in football in recent years, Olive Branch has also had its share of success on the gridiron, the 2016 winless campaign notwithstanding.
The 12 wins by the Quistors this season ties the 2005 and 2006 teams for the second-most number of victories in a year, according to Olive Branch statistician Greg “Buz” Phillips.
Friday will be the eighth time the Conquistadors have been in the North Half finals, Phillips reports, since the high school playoff system was installed in Mississippi back in 1981.
The last time for that was in 2011, when an undefeated Scott Samsel-coached team won the 6A state title.
This year marks the 22nd time Olive Branch has been in the playoffs.
But West Point also has some gaudy figures about their football historic past.
The Green Wave has won eight state championships and has been in the playoffs 25 times with 27 winning seasons to its credit.
As far as this year’s team is concerned coming into Friday’s North Half finals, the high-powered West Point offense has averaged 46.62 points a game while the defense has allowed only 6.31 points a contest.
Olive Branch’s offense, led by record-setting running back Demarcus Ware II, has scored an average of 35.15 points a game and its defense has held the opposition to an average of 12.31 points a contest.
Ware set season records last week for rushing yardage and touchdowns scored with his 231-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 40-21 victory at Lake Cormorant.
Ware now has 1,995 yards rushing for the season and 30 touchdowns to go with that and, along with the rest of the Conquistadors, seeks to continue to play one more time this fall after this Friday night.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.