Northwest, the north division runner-up, earned its berth in the playoffs by defeating Coahoma 61-0 last week in the final week of the regular season. That victory coupled with Northeast's 35-21 loss to Holmes gave the Rangers a chance to win their second state championship in three years. The winner of the Northwest-Jones County contest will meet either Mississippi Delta or East Central Nov. 17 for the state title.
"We feel like we have new life," said Ranger Head Coach Bobby Franklin, who is leading a Northwest team to the playoffs for the 12th time in 21 seasons. "It doesn't matter how we got here. The important thing is we still have a chance to achieve one of the goals we set before the season began and that's to win a state championship."
Northwest defeated Jones County 30-20 in the season-opener Sept. 6 in Senatobia. Since then, the Bobcats have reeled off eight consecutive wins en route to a record of 8-1, including the south division championship, and a No. 10 NJCAA national ranking.
After beating Jones, Northwest got into its north division schedule and stumbled with losses to Northeast and Mississippi Delta. The Rangers head into the playoffs with an overall record of 7-2, and have won four of their last five games, including three shutouts against Holmes, East Mississippi, and Coahoma.
Offensively, the Rangers are second in the state averaging 419.1 yards per game. They are led by sophomore receiver Durell Robinson of Lyman, S.C, who was first in the state in scoring (7.5 ppg), receptions (5.8), and receiving yardage (105.8 ypg). Sophomore tailback Sherron Moore of Calhoun City has been solid as well. Moore became the school's first 1000-yard rusher in five years, and enters the post-season with 172 carries for 1,106 yards and seven touchdowns.
The trigger man for the Northwest offense is freshman quarterback Bobby Robison of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Robison finished second in the state in passing by completing 154 of 311 attempts for 2,285 yards and 20 touchdowns.
From a defensive unit that was second in the state in total defense limiting opponents to an average of 219.8 yards per game, the star is sophomore defensive end Colby Simmons of Lithia Springs, Ga. Simmons led the Rangers in tackles (86), quarterback sacks (12), and fumble recoveries (5). Freshman linebacker Reginald Wilson of Charleston and freshman cornerback Jamaal Jackson of Bruce have been playmakers as well. Wilson totalled 85 tackles and four interceptions, while Jackson posted a state-leading six interceptions.
Jones County heads into the first round playoff game with the state's third-best offense. Statiscally, the Bobcats average 359.9 yards per game. Jones County is led by second-year tailbacks Ralph Davis (a state-leading 128 ypg) and Rashard Phillips (53.2 ypg). Freshman quarterback Charles Hales is fifth in the state in passing with 102 completions in 233 attempts for 1,365 yards and six touchdowns. His favorite target is freshman receiver Alonzo Nix, who is third in the state with 38 catches for 664 yards and five scores.
Defensively, the Bobcats are fourth in the state in total defense allowing 227.4 yards per contest, including an average of 72.5 rushing yards. Sophomore linebacker Josh Tate leads Jones County with 71 tackles, while freshman defensive back Chris Swain has 65 tackles and five caused fumbles.