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Water Valley hosts undefeated North Panola for 2-3A title

Coming off a 2-9 season, Friday night was not supposed to happen.

But that is why the games are played.

In probably one of the more improbable scenarios of this season, Water Valley is hosting undefeated North Panola for the Region 2-3A championship.

Improbable to everyone but Water Valley.

With a young team — there are only nine seniors on their roster — the Blue Devils (7-3, 4-0 2-3A) have relied on the ever-growing experience of their underclassmen to get them to where they are.

“It’s what you shoot for,” Water Valley head coach Brad Embry said. “At the end of the last game last year, we sat down in the locker room and said, ‘Guys, we’ve got to get it fixed and it’s up to us.’ That was good medicine.”

Last week’s win over Independence clinched a playoff berth for the Blue Devils and they will be home for the first round of the MHSAA Class 3A playoffs. But a win on Friday (7 p.m., 105.5 FM) would give them their first region title since 2011. Water Valley has been runner-up in 2-3A six times since they moved to 3A in 2009. Before last season, the Blue Devils were runners-up to Charleston four straight years dating back to 2012.

“We talked about this last week,” Embry said. “I said, ‘Hey guys, let’s just put the foot on the gas pedal and see how far we can go.’ We’re not just looking at this week. We’re seeing how far we can take it.”

North Panola (9-0, 4-0) defeated the Blue Devils 32-7 last season, ending a three-game losing skid since joining 2-3A in 2013.

The Cougars have exerted dominance during their nine-game win streak, scoring an average of 46.1 points per game. They have defeated opponents by an average margin of 37.7 points. The North Panola defense has pitched four shutout games.

It might turn into a shootout as Water Valley is averaging 39 points a game. Since starting region play, the Blue Devils have lit up the scoreboard by averaging 51 points per game.