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Loyd Star Hornets challenge St. John at Harrison Central

Division 6-2A runner-up Loyd Star faces Division 8-2A champGulfport St. John Friday night in the first round of the Class 2Astate football playoffs. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

The game will be played at Harrison Central’s football field.Region 4-5A Gulfport and St. John share the same football field.Gulfport got first choice because it is hosting Meridian. HarrisonCentral is on the road at Wayne County,

Division 6-2A champ Richland is hosting Division 8-2A runner-upPerry Central.

Coaching the 8-2 Loyd Star Hornets is first-year head coachAnthony Hart. Buddy Singleton is head coach of the 10-1 St. JohnEagles.

“They (St. John) have a good football team,” said Hart. “Theyhave a very good quarterback in Thad Rhodes. He throws the ballwell and is their strongest player.

” They have some good linemen, especially tackle Lane Hensarling(6-3, 295),” Hart continued. “Leo Casey is their best runningback.Flanker Dewayne Carter is a top receiver.

“Defensively. they play seven gutsy both ways,” Hart continued.”They have really good players.”

Loyd Star brings to the football field plenty of offensivefirepower.

Powering the Hornet running game this season is juniorruningback Derrick Johnson with 802 rushing yards on 103 carries.Demarcus Barnes has rushed 62 times for 463 yards. Injured fullbackAdam Speeg has 78 carries for 480 yards and is out for theremainder of the season following ankle surgery. Wingback ChaseColey has rushed 46 times for 311 yards.

Loyd Star senior quarterback Brad Britt has completed 31 of 63passes for 633 yards, including 4 touchdowns and 1 passinterception. The leading receiver is Coley with 15 catches for 419yards. Barnes follows with 5 catches for 79 yards.

The top scorer for the Hornets is Barnes with 60 points. Johnsonhas collected 54 points. Speeg finished with 42 points. Coley hasracked up 42 points.

Loyd Star’s defense is directed by juniorlinebacker Cody Covington with 117 tackles. Linebacker Casey Warrenis second with 93 tackles. Other top tacklers include Speeg with 89tackles, Seth Britt with 65 tackles, Daniel Sisco with 56 tacklesand Logan Portrey with 55 tackles.

Seth Britt has 4 pass interceptions. Barnes and Deke Purdy aresecond with 3 pass interceptions apiece.

With Speeg out for the remainder of the season, Hart said hewill start freshman Mathew Delaughter at linebacker and Seth Brittat fullback.

“We are going to go down there and play hard,” said Hart. “Wefeel like we have a very good chance. The kids are ready toplay”.

Singleton said there are similarities between his St. John teamand Loyd Star.

“They (Loyd Star) are great football team,” complimentedSingleton. “They execute well offensively. They play a greatdefense. They have a good kicking game.

“They are a lot like us,” Singleton continued. “They don’t hurtthemselves. We had a lot of respect for them. They have a couple ofgood runningbacks and a good quarterback. You’re going to have tobeat them.”

Rhodes is the sparkplug for St. John. “He (Rhodes) does a goodjob,” said Singleton.

St. John’s top runningback is John Bragdon. “He is one of ourleaders,” Singleton stated.

Another key player Singleton mentioned is sophomore fullback LeoCasey, “He has had a good year on offense.”

St. John has been successful in mixing its offense thisseason.

We have a pretty good football team,” Singleton stated. “We tryto mix it up. We excel at the run and have a good passing game.

“It’s kind of a team effort,” Singleton said of his defense. “Webasically do what we need to win.”

Two of the best Eagle players are senior linebacker Josh Huheand Henshaling.

“We are looking forward to it,” added Singleton. “We are happyto be at home.”