HATTIESBURG • A lot of eye discipline will be needed in the MHSAA Class 4A state championship today.
Corinth plays Poplarville at 11 a.m. at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of Southern Miss in the 4A title game. Both teams share the same offensive philosophy and successfully run the Wing-T.
Neither program has a state championship to its name in football. Corinth’s one appearance in the game came in 2001, but it lost. Poplarville lost its two appearances in 2016 and 2018.
“It’s an honor to coach these boys and this team in this game,” Corinth coach Todd Lowery said. “This is about the boys, the city of Corinth and the school. We are representing our county and Northeast Mississippi football.”
Corinth (13-1) averages 306 rushing yards per game and has scored 57 rushing touchdowns. The Warriors have one 1,000-yard rusher in Tam Patterson, but four other players have rushed for 500-plus yards.
Poplarville (9-5) averages 321 rushing yards per game and has scored 53 rushing touchdowns. The Hornets feature two 1,000-yard rushers in Chase Shears and Gregory Swann. Poplarville lost all five starters on its offensive line from a year ago, but the replacements have filled the holes exceptionally well.
“Poplarville’s strength is what they have in the box and their line,” Lowery said. “They really block well. They know the gap schemes, and they work it well. Then they have a couple of backs who are really good ball carriers. They are hard-nosed, good runners.”
While both teams use the Wing-T every game, neither team has to defend the deceptive scheme very often. But to know how to run it as successfully as each team does, each coach knows the ins-and-outs of how to defend it as well.
For Lowery and his Warriors, it’s about eye discipline, tackling, and controlling the line of scrimmage. A perk for Corinth is that many of the key players on offense also play on defense, so they know what the Wing-T is all about.
DT Sheffield, Tam Patterson, Cayden Betts, Carter Bonds, Nazarius Jones and Will Agnew, all key rushers in the offense, also play significant roles on 4A’s best scoring defense, which allows only 13.2 points per game.
“Those are guys that understand what the philosophy and the concepts are and what they’re trying to do with the Wing-T,” Lowery said. “It’s beneficial to have them over there, but even knowing it, that’s just part of the battle. We have to win the war of the trenches.”