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By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Oct. 23, 2003
Four area teams will have playoff implications on the line Friday when the squads enter the season's final stages.
West Lauderdale and Clarkdale can both seal postseason berths with wins, while Lamar is set to clinch a division title. Northeast Lauderdale's fate will not be determined until the season's last week, but the Trojans can virtually wrap up a playoff appearance as well.
at Copiah Academy
The Raiders can nail down the Division 2 title in District 2-AAA on Friday with a road win over struggling Copiah Academy.
Lamar is 7-1 and currently riding a five-game winning streak. A win over Copiah would give the Raiders their third district win, and since Lamar owns tie-breakers over everyone in the division, head coach Mac Barnes knows his team controls its own fate.
A week ago, Lamar won its fifth straight game with a 49-7 blowout over Adams Christian. The Raiders defense held Adams running back Luke Ogden, one of the state's most dangerous running backs, to only one touchdown and even that came in the fourth quarter after the game was effectively over.
Copiah is 1-8 and has not scored since a 21-14 loss to East Rankin on Sept. 19.
Lamar's offense has scored more than 40 points in four of the Raiders' last five games.
W. Lauderdale
at Morton
West Lauderdale has no time to feel sorry for itself.
The Knights had a five-game winning streak snapped last Friday when they lost 21-10 to Forest. Now 6-2 overall, West Lauderdale's 3-1 record in Division 5-3A has the team in a three-way tie for first place.
While the loss to Forest means West Lauderdale does not control its destiny for the division title, the Knights can assure themselves of a playoff appearance with a win over the Panthers.
While defense has been able to carry the Knights throughout the season, its offense has seen more consistent days. West Lauderdale has not scored more than 14 points in a game since Sept. 26.
Morton's last six weeks have been virtually the opposite of West Lauderdale's success. While the Knights ended a five-game winning streak on Friday, Morton broke a five-game losing streak with a 34-7 win over Southeast Lauderdale.
It was the highest offensive production of the season for the Panthers, 3-5 overall and 1-3 in district play, who have struggled to score points and have been shut out twice.
Kemper County
at Clarkdale
A streaky Clarkdale team can make up for a rough first half of the season on Friday when the Bulldogs can earn a playoff berth with a win over Kemper County.
After opening the season with five straight losses, Clarkdale reeled off two consecutive division wins before losing a close 10-0 game against division-leading Philadelphia last Friday.
The Bulldogs are now 2-6 overall, but 2-1 in Division 5-2A and will make the playoffs for the second straight year if Clarkdale can beat the Wildcats.
A win on Friday would also assure the Bulldogs of at least a third-place finish in the division, which means they would not face a first-place team in the opening round of the playoffs.
Kemper County is 1-7, its only win coming against division foe Williams-Sullivan on Oct. 3. Ethridge said the Clarkdale defense, which kept the Bulldogs in the game against Philadelphia, will be tested again by a quick Kemper County offense.
at NE Lauderdale
It may be now or never for Northeast Lauderdale.
The Trojans, 3-5 overall and 2-2 in Division 5-4A, are currently on the outside looking in at the division's four playoff berths but could take a major step forward with a win against Mendenhall.
While one game ahead of the Trojans in the division standings, Northeast Jones has the unenviable task of facing a solid Quitman team and a nearly invincible Wayne County squad over the next two weeks. Since Northeast Lauderdale beat the Tigers 14-7 earlier this season, the Trojans have the tie-breaker.
Should Northeast Jones lose its final two games a very real possibility Northeast Lauderdale would need only one win out of its last two games to advance to the postseason. With undefeated West Jones looming as their final opponent of the regular season, the Trojans need a win against 1-7 Mendenhall.
Mendenhall's only win of the year came Oct. 3 over Florence, a team that is winless in division play. The Tigers' offense has had trouble putting up points, scoring six points or less in six of eight games. However, Mendenhall did score a touchdown against Wayne County on Friday an accomplishment shared by only two other teams this season.
Although the Tigers' defense has given up an average of 35 points per game, Nelson said his offense will have to play tough to avoid a heavy defensive rush.