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Water Valley, Booneville set for rare showdown in 3A playoffs

OXFORD — There will be Blue Devils playing in next week’s third round of the MHSAA Class 3A playoffs next week, Water Valley just hopes they will be that team.

The Blue Devils travel to the Blue Devils of Booneville for a second round contest on Friday (7 p.m., 105.5 FM) between two teams who have a combined two losses between them.

It will be a rare occurrence on Friday when these two teams take the field. It is the first time in 14 years Water Valley (10-2) and Booneville (11-0) have faced off on the football field. The last time was a 20-14 Booneville win in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs on Nov. 5, 2004.

Water Valley reached the second round of the playoffs in as many years after defeating Yazoo County 34-7, avenging last year’s second round loss. Booneville managed to get past Aberdeen with a 23-12 win in last weeks’ first round.

“Any time you get a playoff win it’s a great thing,” Water Valley head coach Brad Embry said. “It’s easy to talk about it but once you’ve seen it, it makes more sense to them about what it takes to win and how prepare on a daily basis. They got a small taste of success last year and they’ve capitalized and built on it. We’re a better football team than we were last year. How far we go this year is just going to be about how well we prepare on a daily basis.”

Booneville will be without their starting quarterback, after John Daniel Deaton suffered an injury against Aberdeen that was described as crushed vertebrae. Deaton, who had thrown for over 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns will be out for the remainder of Booneville’s playoff run.

That does not mean Booneville’s offensive threat has been diminished this week. Water Valley’s defense still has to account for running back Dallas Gamble who has been the main weapon for Booneville. The Divison-1 recruit has rushed for over 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns this season and has six games of 100-plus rushing yards.

“Booneville’s very impressive,” Embry said. “They’re big and physical upfront and they’ve got a lot of speed. There’s no question why they’re undefeated. We’ve got to go to their place and it will be a big test. That’s for sure.”