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There won't be any strangers tonight when it comes to the Starkville Yellowjackets and West Point Green Wave meeting on the football field once again.
For the second time this season and fourth time in two seasons, the two rivals play each other.
The stakes are more important now than ever as the Class 5A North State championship and a trip to Jackson for the Class 5A title game are on the line. The kickoff for the Jackets and Wave is set for 7 p.m.
"We know each other in and out and front and back," SHS coach Jamie Mitchell said. "There is not anything either one of us is going to do that the other hasn't seen.
"If you wrote a book about how you wanted it to be, I think everybody in our locker room and their locker room both would say we'd want it to come down to us with the chance to go to Jackson. This will be the next to the last chapter and the state championship week will be the last chapter."
West Point won the first meeting of the season between the teams 47-22 on Sept. 7. Quarterback Tez Lane and running back Aeris Williams of the Green Wave combined to rush for 251 yards against the Jackets.
Starkville has a pretty good quarterback-running back combo as well with Gabe Myles and Preston Baker.
Myles has gone over the 1,000-yard mark in passing this season by completing 75-of-161 attempts for 1,026 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has rushed for 542 yards on 116 carries and nine more scores.
Baker has carried 101 time for 748 yards and nine touchdowns, while sophomore Jacquez Horsley is actually the leading rusher for the Jackets with 749 yards on 104 attempts and eight scores.
In a matchup where there's talent on both sides, Mitchell knows what it comes down to as far as winning or losing.
"I know it's coach-talk, but I think it will boil down to a turnover, penalty or big play at some point that will decide the ball game," Mitchell said.
West Point (11-2) has reached this point of the playoffs by knocking off Canton 38-0 and Ridgeland 56-21.
After beginning the season 1-3, the Jackets (10-3) have won nine-straight games, including playoff victories over Saltillo 45-7 and Oxford 28-7.
Mitchell said there's no shame in losing to the teams Starkville did early in the season, because all three are playing for North State titles this week.
"You've got Madison Central in 6A, West Point in 5A and Noxubee (County) in 4A, which are obviously three quality team for sure that beat us early on, but we hope and feel like that we're a much better football team than we were in week four," Mitchell said.View more articles in: