West, NEL start playoffs, Lamar seeks 10th win
By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Nov. 5, 2003
Two Lauderdale County teams open the state playoffs on Friday, and another hopes to earn its 10th win in the season finale.
West Lauderdale opens the postseason against Purvis, and Northeast Lauderdale travels to Gautier for its first-round game.
Lamar hosts Hillcrest in its final regular season game.
West Lauderdale, a team that has played inconsistently at times, looks like the group that shut down opponents during the middle of the season, according to head coach Stan McCain.
After struggling throughout parts of the second half of the season, the Knights closed out the regular season on Friday with a convincing 24-13 win over Carthage.
Now 8-2, West Lauderdale opens the 3A state playoffs on Friday with a home game against Purvis.
Though the Tornadoes are just 5-5, that record is deceiving. Purvis was 2-5 at one point after nearly knocking off Tylertown, and saved its season by winning its last three games.
McCain said the Knights will need another balanced offensive output, as well as support from a defense that has been one of the area's best throughout the season.
West Lauderdale will need a similar defensive effort on Friday against Purvis, which has averaged 30 points per game during its three-game winning streak.
Northeast Lauderdale will make its first playoff appearance in nearly 20 years Friday on the road against Gautier.
The Trojans, 4-6 in the regular season after a 21-6 loss to West Jones on Friday, will be looking to its two work horses, running back Dontray Walker and
quarterback Maurice Langston, to establish its running game against the Gators.
Nelson said that Gautier's offense is loaded with speed at the skill positions. The Gators have won six straight games dating back to mid-September, and scored at least 50 points twice this season.
None of the Trojans have playoff experience, but Nelson said any starry eyes will come back down to earth when the game begins.
Lamar will try to wrap up its most productive season in years on Friday with a season-ending matchup against Hillcrest Christian.
The Raiders, 9-1, have won seven straight since losing to Jackson Prep on Sept. 5. Since then, both Lamar's offense and defense have been nearly unstoppable. The Raiders have scored more than 30 points in each of its seven games since the loss to Prep, and they have not allowed an opponent to score more than seven points since a 42-14 win over Columbia Sept. 12.
Friday's game against the 8-3 Cougars will present the Raiders with their biggest challenge since the Prep game, according to Barnes.
Barnes said the Hillcrest offense brings multiple looks and will keep the Lamar defense on its toes.