North Pontotoc had won 10 straight games entering the 2014 Class 3A playoffs.
With no regard for that success, Aberdeen dismantled the Vikings in the second round by 36 points.
Now in the same division, Journal No. 4-ranked small school Aberdeen beat the Vikings again on Friday but this time was different.
“I thought we did everything that our kids were taught to do to put us in a situation to win,” North Pontotoc coach Brian Sutton said.
North (7-3) was in the situation, a first down at the door of its own red zone away from having a chance to score and win at the end of what was a 33-28 loss.
Sutton praised his team’s effort, but it was more than effort. It was a game.
Cullens leads the way
Zay Cullens rushed for 177 yards and helped match Aberdeen’s lightning output. Down eight points in the third quarter, Aberdeen (7-3) scored a pair of touchdowns within a 1 minute, 16 seconds of each other, deflating what had become an electric home crowd.
But Cullens’ 1-yard run put the Vikings back ahead in a game where Aberdeen led by a little, yet largely controlled.
“I told our guys, ‘You’re not going to face very many teams in 3A as good as what you faced tonight,” Sutton said, “and you proved you could play with them.”
Losing wasn’t winning and Sutton talked after the game about the hurt he saw on his players’ faces. It also wasn’t a 36-point loss that ended the Vikings’ 2014 season with a sour taste.
The two will be on the opposite side of the playoff bracket and could see each other again.
“I told Coach Sutton we may see them again. That’s how good they are,” Aberdeen coach Eric Spann said.