It’s Round 2, this time, for keeps. After a down-to-the-last minute regular season battle between the teams, the No. 1-ranked Many Tigers will host the No. 4 Avoyelles Mustangs in a high school football state semifinal matchup at John W. Curtis Stadium in Many tonight at 7 o’clock.
The winner will play next Friday for the Class 2A state championship in the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.
It’s the Mustangs first trip to a semifinal game. The Tigers, defending state champions, return to the semifinals where they’ve been eight times over the previous nine years and look to return to the championship game for the third season in a row.
This contest will be like a heavyweight fight — Ali-Foreman, Tyson-Holifield, and in this matchup, Andy Boone-Jess Curtis.
Those are the opposing head coaches. They won’t trade punches, literally. They’re good friends who have enjoyed good-natured banter in the media and social media back-and-forth since the end of last Friday night’s quarterfinal playoff wins.
Avoyelles (11-2) faced familiar foes in its first two playoff games, beating parish rival Bunkie 42-7 and dispatching district opponent Winnfield 30-21. Last Friday, the Mustangs went on the road north of Shreveport to topple North Caddo 46-28.
Many (12-1) scored 30 points in the first seven minutes last Friday and blasted Rosepine 50-12. A week earlier, East Feliciana battled the visiting Tigers down to the last seven minutes, but then another scoring blitz broke open a one-score game in a 51-22 Many victory. The playoff opener for the Tigers was a 49-0 romp past Independence.
It’s a matchup of district rivals who played a very physical contest Oct. 15 in Many. The Tigers won 34-30, coming from behind late in the game, scoring the game-winning touchdown with under a minute left on the way to winning District 3-2A.
The Mustangs have since been banged up with their big running back and linebacker Carlos Bazert out with an ACL (knee) injury. Decareyn Sampson has had a high ankle sprain but is back playing. Sampson scored three touchdowns in the first meeting, two on offense and one on defense with a scoop and score. There is some speculation in the news media that Bazert may try to play despite the injury.
The Tigers want to continue the offensive express they’ve been on in the playoffs. Averaging 50 points in three playoff games, Many has not had a close one yet. The Tiger defense has given up an average of just over 11 points per game in the playoffs.
Many will again be missing linebacker Marquis Maxie, out with an ACL knee injury. Explosive running back Jeremiah James did not play in the first meeting but now he is back at full force in the Tiger backfield.
The Mustangs come into the contest with their very unorthodox style of play. Avoyelles uses a run-heavy offense and a never-punt philosophy that gives many teams a real problem since no one else plays the style they do. They also onside kick every kick off. The Tiger hands team on kickoffs will be very important as well as the defensive game plan to stop the Mustangs.
Last week’s award winners after the 50-12 quarterfinal victory against Rosepine were Jack Deville with the Foy’s Game Ball. Keaton Montgomery won the Sledgehammer Award and Ja’Korey Jones was the recipient of the Hard Hat Award.
This looks to be a hard-fought, very physical, old school game in the trenches, just like the first meeting.
There’s been a lot of talk during the week on social media, the news stations, and in newspapers. It’s time to see who will walk the walk after all the talking. This one will be a classic with the winner set to face the survivor of the Jonesboro-Hodge at Amite semifinal in the Dome next Friday at 3:30 for all the 2A marbles.