12 years later, Oxford, WC play for it all again

Published 12:01 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Johnny Hill vividly remembers the first state championship game he ever coached in as the head man. It came in Oxford’s first-ever title game appearance against Wayne County.

“We haven’t blocked Jerrell Powe yet,” Hill joked, referencing the havoc caused by the former Wayne County star and Ole Miss defensive lineman.

That was in 2003 when the War Eagles cruised to a 30-3 victory in the Class 4A championship game. Now Hill, who will be coaching his final game before retiring, and his Chargers will get a do-over when the teams meet in this year’s Class 5A championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. at Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Email newsletter signup

“I guess life has kind of come full circle with me,” Hill said.

The coach who will be pacing the opposing sideline, Wayne County’s Todd Mangum, was also on the War Eagles’ staff then as the defensive coordinator under current Petal coach Marcus Boyles.

The recollection of what happened on the field that December night 12 years ago isn’t as clear for Mangum.

“Just being fortunate enough to win,” said Mangum, who took over for Boyles in 2012. “It’s been so long ago, but it was an experience then just like it will be a great experience now.”

Mangum’s defensive schemes and fronts have changed some since then, but Hill said his team is more concerned about the War Eagles’ players on that side of the ball rather than where they’re lining up, specifically up front with another quick, powerful defensive tackle in Ole Miss commit Benito Jones.

“We’ve seen every defense you could see,” Hill said. “It’s personnel where they’re tough.”

Here are some other things to watch for in other state championship games starting Friday:

Play it again
Saturday’s 4A title game between Noxubee County and St. Stanislaus as well as the 3A game pitting Charleston (13-2) against Collins (14-1) earlier in the day are rematches from last year’s championship bouts.

Collins rallied from a 17-6 deficit to force overtime and eventually claim the 3A title with a 28-20 win. The teams have combined to lose just three games this season.

Noxubee County (11-4) will try to win its third 4A title in four seasons with another win over St. Stanislaus (11-3) after knocking off the Rock-A-Chaws 48-27 a season ago. The Tigers enter this year’s game on a nine-game winning streak while St. Stanislaus has won 10 straight after a 1-3 start.

“It’s certainly consumed us. It’s certainly consumed me,” St. Stanislaus coach Bill Conides said of last year’s game. “I feel like I’ve worked every single day since that loss.”

Four in a row?
Bassfield will go for its fourth straight 2A championship when it takes on East Webster on Friday.

Only twice since 2009 has someone other than the Yellowjackets (13-2) won it all in their classification. Bassfield is doing it this year with a high-octane offense that’s scored at least 41 points nine times.

East Webster (14-1) is allowing just 10.5 points a game and will need every bit of that defense to contain a team that put up 60 in last year’s title win over Calhoun City.

Familiar face
In his first year as Starkville’s coach, Ricky Woods will lead the Yellowjackets (13-1) against Petal (10-4) on Friday for the 6A title.

It’s a return to a part of the state where Woods had a successful five-year stint as the head coach at Northwest Missississippi Community College before stepping down after the 2012 season.

Woods left as the Rangers’ second-winningest coach with a 35-13 overall record and led NWCC to its first bowl victory in 20 seasons.