BHS, Loyd Star, Lawrence County play in postseason this Friday

Published 8:57 am Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The 2023 MHSAA playoffs continue Friday and there are three area schools still alive in postseason play.

Brookhaven High (6-4) vs. Vancleave High (4-6)

For the second time in three years, Brookhaven High will open the MHSAA 5A playoffs by hosting a first-round game on King Field.

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BHS head coach Tucker Peavey is 14-11 all time in the postseason during his two separate stints leading Panther football. One of those wins was a 30-3 road victory in the 2006 playoffs at Vancleave.

That game is the only prior meeting between Brookhaven and the Bulldogs from Jackson County.

Vancleave is led by former Mississippi State quarterback Kevin Fant, who is in his fifth season as head coach at the school.

The Bulldogs finished in third place of Region 5-4A by beating Wayne County 38-35 last week. Last season Fant and his team finished fourth in the region and then went on the road and won 41-35 at Hattiesburg in the first round of the playoffs.

VHS is led on the ground by running back Derik Forehand. Forehand ran for 139 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown last week in the win over Wayne County. Sophomore Kyle Capers carried the ball 24 times for 137 yards in that win too.

Expect Vancleave to keep the ball on the ground and play possession football. The Bulldogs mostly operate out of an I-Formation with double tight ends on the offensive side of the ball.

Brookhaven High is also a team that primarily rushes the ball, but the Panthers have a true home-run threat in senior running back Xavier Gayten.

A Mississippi State commit, Gayten has rushed the ball 180 times for 1,608 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. He’s currently averaging 8.9 yards per carry.

Senior defensive back Nathan Lewis leads the Panther defense with 91 total tackles this season. Senior Kenan Quinn is second on the team with 71 stops and sophomore EJ Ratliff has made the third most tackles on the team with 63.

The winner of this game will face the winner of Provine (6-5) and Laurel High (5-6) in the second round.


Loyd Star (10-1) vs. Collins High (6-4)

November 6, 2009.

That’s the last time Loyd Star won a MHSAA 2A playoff game before this season.

Last Friday, the 2023 Hornets put their names forever in the school’s history with a thrilling 21-20 win over Lake High in the 2A first round.

In the game’s final seconds, Lake got down to the Loyd Star 3-yard line and attempted a game winning field goal. Two straight off-side penalties by the Hornets moved the ball even closer and Lake coach Tate Hanna decided to go for a game winning score rather than trying a kick.

The Lake ball carrier was met at the goal line by a host of Hornets that turned him away and forced a fumble that was recovered by Loyd Star to seal the victory.

Loyd Star freshman quarterback Jordyn Kees had his best passing game of the season in the win as he went 6-of-11 for 106 yards and one touchdown. Omarion Clay caught three passes for 98 yards and had a receiving touchdown for his team.

On the ground, Kees rushed 24 times for 76 yards and one score. Senior fullback Jaden Lea had 16 carries for 30 yards.

Senior defensive lineman Hayes Smith recovered a Lake fumble for a touchdown in the second quarter. Smith finished the game with nine tackles. Junior Zack Cotton led the Hornets defense with 11 total tackles and Lea made 10 stops himself as a linebacker.

This will be the second straight season for Loyd Star and Collins to meet in the postseason. Last year the Hornets, under then head coach Brian Ford, went to Collins and lost 39-26 in the first round.

Collins is a program with a strong tradition. The Tigers won back-to-back state titles in 2001-2002 and did it again in 2014-2015.

Mize (8-3) won Region 8-2A this season with a 4-0 mark in the division. Heidelberg (8-3) came in second at 3-1 and Collins was the third placed team with a 2-2 region record.

Last week, the Tigers went on the road and won 50-30 at Puckett High. The most impressive win of the season for Collins is a 17-6 road victory in the season opener at 4A Northeast Jones.

Junior nose guard Amere Cooley is a 6-foot, 245-pound run stopper in the middle of the Tiger defensive line. Senior linebacker Jermell Chaney is another big piece of the Collins defense as he clocks in at 6-foot-2 and 225-pounds.

Offensively, Collins likes to pass the ball as sophomore quarterback Travon Magee has thrown for over 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. His top targets are 6-foot-3 senior receiver Donte Booth and sophomore Maurio Luvine. Luvine has caught a team high nine touchdown passes.

The winner of this game will face the winner of Heidelberg (8-3) and Bay Springs (10-1) in the third round.


Lawrence County (6-5) at McComb High (11-0)

There will be tons of talent on the field Friday at C.C. Moore Stadium when unbeaten McComb hosts Lawrence County for a MHSAA 4A second round matchup.

The host Tigers are a team that have started the season with 11-straight wins by using an explosive passing offense.

McComb senior quarterback Jamarcus Pittman is 104-of-160 on the season for 2,364 yards. Possibly the most impressive thing is that Pittman has thrown 32 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He has also rushed for a team best nine touchdowns on the ground.

Pittman’s favorite man to throw the ball to is senior Ole Miss commit Sanfrisco Magee. Magee leads the team with nearly 1,000 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on the season.

From 2018-2021, McComb was led by former Hazlehurst and South Pike head coach Willie Brown. Brown ran the ball with the Tigers as he’s always done offensively at other head coaching stops such as Greenville, Lanier, Port Gibson and Moss Point.

The Tigers are now under the leadership of second year head coach Alden Foster, who had prio success as a high school head coach at Amite High in Louisiana. Foster is a combined 20-2 in his time at MHS and won his first playoff game last week with a 55-7 thrashing of Bay High.

Lawrence County will counter with a rushing attack that’s keyed by senior quarterback Kannon Cato and senior halfback Ahmad Hardy.

The Cougars and coach Jesse Anderson rolled Mendenhall 44-27 last week in their home playoff opener.

Cato scored three touchdowns as he rushed the ball 12 times for 72 yards. Hardy had 20 carries for 144 yards and three touchdowns. That put Hardy’s season total at 1,836 rushing yards on the season.

The Cougars also got a season best 134 yards on 15 carries from senior fullback Markavion Owens.

Senior linebacker Aundre Ingram led the LC defense with nine tackles in the win.

McComb holds an 18-9 all time advantage in matchups with Lawrence County. The Tigers won the last meeting between the schools 26-20 in the first round of the 2021 playoffs.

The winner of this game will place the winner of Forrest County AHS (6-4) and Poplarville (8-3) in the third round.