Today is the day the Many Tigers football team has had in its hearts and minds since collecting last year’s Class 2A state championship.
That game, thanks to the pandemic, took place nearby in Natchitoches at NSU’s Turpin Stadium. More Tiger fans got to watch in person as Many held off Kinder, than would’ve likely made the trip to New Orleans to play for the state crown in the Caesars Superdome.
Today, the Tigers may not have quite as big a hometown crowd, but they will get an even bigger thrill when they take center stage in the state’s premium sports venue, in the bright lights and the big city, kicking off at 3:30 against Amite with the 2A state title at stake.
The Many radio crew of Randy Bostian and Brad Ford will have their broadcast on 99.9 KTEZ FM, beginning at 2:55. A pay-per-view telecast is available at the https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/lhsaa/gamd0250e4199 link on the internet.
After edging Avoyelles 40-38 in the semifinals, the Tigers will make their third straight appearance in the state championship game. They lost to Ferriday in 2019 in the Superdome, won last year at NSU, and in 2014 they beat Kinder for the state crown in the ‘Dome after losing the previous season
Amite beat Jonesboro-Hodge 35-26 in the other semifinal game, overcoming a 13-0 first-half deficit at home. The Warriors won the 2018 2A championship in their last finals appearance, after losing twice earlier last decade. They are aiming for their sixth state title, their third this century.
The Tigers come into the contest with a record of 13-1 while Amite’s record is 10-2. The Warriors did not lose a game on the field this season; they were forced to forfeit two early games due to an ineligible player. They also had their first two games cancelled due to hurricane damage.
Many edged Amite 34-30 last season in a quarterfinal matchup at Amite. That game has not been forgotten by either side; it went right down to the last play with Amite throwing into the end zone, and was a very physical contest.
“That was such a great game,” said Many coach Jess Curtis. “To go in and win at Amite, a place with such great tradition, really was an achievement. I expect it to be the same kind of game this year.”
The Tigers headed south early Thursday morning, making a stop in Baton Rouge for lunch before their afternoon photo session and practice time in the Superdome.
The Tigers will be led by a ground game that has produced yards and points all season. Running backs London Williams and Jeremiah James have toted the rock all season long and don’t look for much to change in the finals. Williams leads the state, in all classes, in rushing yards (2,545), touchdowns (46), and total points (308). James has really come on this season and runs the ball extremely hard.
Many’s big offensive line will have their hands full with a host of returning defensive linemen from Amite. Joe Cryer, Ja’Korey Jones, Cole Pickett, James Hickman, and Garrett Foster will be up front opening holes for the running game.
The Tiger defense has been making big hits and big plays despite the loss of starting linebacker Marquis Maxie to a knee injury. Keaton Montgomery had a great semifinal game from the middle linebacker position and will be backed up by Tackett Curtis, Tylen Singleton, and Javyvion Smart in a talent-laden secondary.
The defensive line will play a huge role in keeping the offensive linemen off the backers and secondary so they can make tackles. Swayze Carheel, Nick Tatum, and Demario Glover to name a few will need to have strong games for the Tiger defense.
Award winners from last week’s semifinal game were London Williams with the Foy’s Game Ball and the Hard Hat Awards, while Tackett Curtis was recipient of the Sledge Hammer award.
Amite is led by a group of seniors. Mississippi State commit Javae Gilmore is a 6’4” wide receiver/linebacker who will play defense in the Southeastern Conference next fall. Senior backs Brennan Harrell, Earl Jackson, and Korrill Mearridy lead the Warriors offense along with junior quarterback Jalen Robinson.
All Many fans traveling to New Orleans should check the LHSAA.org website for admission information, particularly about the requirements related to vaccinations mandated by the city government.
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