Mississippi Sports

Jared’s Guide to the 4A State Championship Game: Louisville vs Poplarville

(Poplarville’s Tyron Houston returns a kickoff in last year’s MHSAA Class 4A State Championship game. Photo courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA)

North 4A hasn’t been too kind to their south counterparts over the last decade. North 4A has bullied their opponent in this game for nine of the last 10 seasons, including 2018’s matchup between, guess who, Louisville and Poplarville. 

Expectations have never been higher at Poplarville, making the big game in four of the last five seasons. However, they were just outmanned and played victim to some outstanding, athletic players over the years. In 2018, Poplarville had Louisville right where they wanted them, but they failed to get out of their own way with mental mistakes and penalties galore. Third time is the charm? 

Louisville just doesn’t lose on this stage. They are once again loaded. They are balanced, play good defense and find a way late, like they did last week against the Indians of Itawamba AHS. This matchup plays really similar to two years ago, just different venue. Will they reach the 10 club Saturday?

Poplarville Hornets (10-3):

Head Coach: Jay Beech

Championship Road:

1st: Florence (W 62-17)

2nd: South Pike (W 27-6)

3rd: North Pike (W 62-6)

South: Mendenhall (W 35-6)

Championship History:

Wins: None

Losses: 2016, 2018, 2019

Player Watch:

RB – D.J. Richardbey (162 car, 1,297 yds, 19 TD)

RB – Tyron Holston (86 car, 1,008 yds, 11 TD) (4 rec, 105 yds, TD)

RB – Greg Swann (117 car, 976 yds, 12 TD) (2 rec, 86 yds, 2 TD)

DB – Torry Polk (43 tkls, 4 INT, FR)

LB – Khalid Moore (85 tkls, SK, FF, FR)

Keys to Victory:

– Discipline

– Minimize big plays defensively

Louisville Wildcats (12-1):

Head Coach: Tyrone Shorter

Championship Road:

1st: Caledonia (W 26-13)

2nd: New Albany (W 29-15)

3rd: Pontotoc (W 28-7)

North: Itawamba AHS (W 18-6)

Championship History:

Wins: 1985, 1986, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2018

Losses: None

Player Watch:

QB – Jace Hudspeth (68% com., 1,691 yds, 13 TD, 6 INT) (19 car, 64 yds, 4 TD)

RB – Emory James (166 car, 1,019 yds, 13 TD)

WR – Jarvis Rush (49 rec, 800 yds, 8 TD)

DL – Ty Cooper (112 tkls, 40 TFL, 13 SK, INT, 3 FF, 3 FR)

LB – Keandre Gill (162 tkls, 34 TFL, 3 SK, 2 FF, 2 FR, FUM-TD)

Keys to Victory:

– Take what defense gives

– Stay on assignment defensively

The Outlook:

As stated earlier, Louisville is just unbeatable on this stage. It’s so unfortunate too because Poplarville deserves to win one real soon. It’s also unfortunate that while they are well-coached, there’s just so much to handle on the other sideline. De’ja vu. ‘Cats win it again.

PICK: Louisville 38, Poplarville 24

Jared Redding

Jared Redding is a senior journalism major at the University of Mississippi and a lifelong native of Oxford, Miss. Jared has previously served with SES Mississippi and currently contributes to the Oxford Eagle and HottyToddy.com.

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