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Jared’s Guide to the 1A State Championship Game: Simmons vs. Bay Springs

***Simmons players hoist the gold ball after the 2017 MHSAA Class 1A State Championship game. Photo courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA.***

If you’ve followed 1A football in Mississippi this season, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that either of these teams are here. One team looking to add to a trophy case, the other looking to finally get over the hump. Something has to give between these two dominant squads.

Remember that team back in 2018 that had their 58-game winning streak snapped in Hattiesburg? Yeah, that’s Simmons. The numbers speak for itself, they’ve outscored their opponents 686-56. That’s about as dominant as nearby North Side was two years ago. The only real test they’ve had was their 2nd round matchup with previously defending 1A North champ Biggersville, and it was still a 36-point victory. As a matter of fact, that was only the second game they’ve given up double digit points. They’re looking to play spoiler to a team many thought would be favorite early in the season.

The Bulldogs have been here in recent memory, but failed to get the job done in Class 2A. Now, as a member of 1A, they have a golden opportunity to back up the preseason hype. Their only loss was to a Scott Central who, ironically, will be playing for a gold ball the next day. Ever since then, it’s been dominance for the most part. They’ve played against some really good competition, knocking off the defending 2A and 1A champs in region play and eventually outscored their playoff opponents 136-6. Defense is also something they boast. It’s juggernaut versus juggernaut Friday afternoon.

Simmons (13-0):

Head Coach: Tavares Johnson

Championship Road:

1st – vs. Okolona (66-0)

2nd – vs. Biggersville (66-30)

3rd – @ Tupelo Christian Prep (48-0)

Championship History:

Wins: 2015, 2016, 2017

Losses: 2005, 2018

Player Watch:

ATH Vontrez Rush (127 car, 2,205 yards, 36 TD… 17 tkls, 4 PD, INT)

ATH Dee Rush (61/86, 959 yards, 16 TD…60 car, 763 yards, 17 TD)

DT Tymon Wells (76 tot tkls, 66 solo tkls, 36 TFL, 19 sacks, FR)

ATH Jermaine Edwards (51 car, 663 yards, 9 TD… 30 tot tkls, 25 solo tkls, FR, 2 INT, INT-TD)

ATH Charles Mallard (11 rec, 214 yards, 6 TD… 13 tot tkls, 3 INT, 7 PD)

Keys to Victory:

– Get Vontrez Rush involved early

– Respect the pass

Bay Springs (11-1):

Head Coach: Dan Brady

Championship Road:

1st – vs. Ethel (48-0)

2nd – vs. Lumberton (44-0)

3rd – vs. West Lowndes (44-6)

Championship History:

Wins: None

Losses: 1989, 1999, 2016

Player Watch:

ATH Tyrick Jones (135 car, 1,152 yards, 17 TD… 20 tot tkls, 3.5 sacks)

RB Anthony Ross (126 car, 1,090 yards, 9 TD…5 rec, 29 yards, 2 TD)

ATH Anthony Newell (28/51, 468 yards, 11 TD… 27 car, 138 yards, 2 TD…49 tot tkls)

WR Tony Johnson (10 rec, 221 yards, 8 TD)

DE Cartize Booth (64 tot tkls, 33 solo tkls, 17 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 4 PD, 2 FR_

Keys to Victory:

– Keep Simmons on their heels

– Attack LOS

The Outlook:

This one is tough to gauge because there’s little weakness between these two squads. I think ultimately it will come down to the team that makes fewer mental mistakes and plays smarter. When you at being battle tested, It’s hard to argue that Bay Springs doesn’t have a tough schedule. They’ve survived and are playing their best football right now, just the right time. It will be close, but I think Bay Springs delivers their school’s first gold ball. Simmons will give them all they can handle though.

PICK: Bay Springs 24, Simmons 20

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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