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Winston goes for fourth straight title

By By Robbie Robertson/The Meridian Star
When it comes to winning state championships, the Winston Academy Patriots are the experts.
Winston will go for an unprecedented fourth straight MPSA title and its third straight Class AA title Thursday when they take on Bowling Green at Mississippi College's Robinson-Hale Stadium in a 7 p.m. contest.
The Patriots enter the contest with a 9-4 mark but are getting healthy at the right time, as evidenced by last week's 56-21 win over previously unbeaten Kirk Academy in the Class AA North State championship game. Kirk beat Winston during the regular season.
But the Patriots have gotten healthy in the playoffs and are clicking on all cylinders on offense, especially quarterback Taylor McNeel.
McNeel threw for seven touchdowns last week and 348 yards passing. For the season, McNeel has thrown for 1,951 yards and rushed for 1,295 yards. Last week's offensive outburst put McNeel over the 5,000-yard mark for his career.
Also leading the Patriots offensive attack is Lenny Boatner who has run for 971 yards on 96 carries and has 1,050 yards receiving while the Patriots have played one of the toughest schedules in Class AA. Wesley Wright has rung up 985 yards rushing, despite missing three games to an injury.
Winston is averaging 423 yards a game on offense and Rogers said he took his starters out at the half in five games.
But the Winston offense hasn't been the problem this season, it's been a defense that has given up big chunks of yards on the ground. But the Patriots held Kirk scoreless in the second half last week, something that gives Rogers hope this week.
Rogers said the Patriots defense picked up with the return of Wright.
One thing Winston does have going for them is playoff experience, something that can't be overrated.
Robbie Robertson is sports editor for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rrobertson@meridianstar.com.

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