Ridgeland sports a talented roster
The Ridgeland Titans are about to find out if their legs can carry them all the way to the Class 5A state championship game.
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All season long, Ridgeland has relied on a heavy rushing attack to spearhead its success.
The Titans have rushed for a total of 2,622 yards this season as a team, a number Ridgeland hopes to add to when they host the Starkville Yellowjackets at 7 p.m. Friday for the North Half title.
If the Titans are to continue their successful running ways, much will hinge on the performance of senior running back Quardarius Armour.
"He's a good hard-nosed little running back," Ridgeland football coach Kenny Burton said in October. "He runs the ball really well, shows a lot of speed and we're proud of him."
Burton moved Armour from defense to offense prior to the season and the move has worked out well for the Titans.
Armour has already rushed for 1,895 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, running for more than 150 yards in eight of Ridgeland's 13 games.
"He is their guy, no doubt about it," Starkville football coach Jamie Mitchell said.
The good news for the Jackets is they have a recent history of slowing down Armour.
When SHS traveled to Ridgeland on Nov. 7 and defeated the Titans 26-23, the Jackets held Armour to a season-low 15 yards rushing.
Starkville will hope for a repeat with a trip to Jackson on the line.
Even if the Jackets hold down Armour, the Titans aren't completely one-dimensional.
Ridgeland senior quarterback Tyler James has thrown for 1,478 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, causing opponents to respect the Titans' air attack.
While Armour scuffled against Starkville earlier this year, James actually put together one of his year's best statistical performances, throwing for a season-best 260 yards to go along with a pair of touchdown strikes.
James' strong year has been helped by a reliable unit of receivers.
Six Titans have at least 11 receptions this season, with junior Bryce Williams pacing Ridgeland with 24 receptions for 460 yards.
While Williams leads the Titans in receptions and yards receiving, senior Xavier Whisenton has a team-high of five touchdown catches.
Mitchell said it will be very important for Starkville to continue playing quality defense.
"We've played super defense all year long and we've just got to continue to do that," Mitchell said. "They've gotten us to this point so they need to get us to Jackson and we're putting a lot of pressure on them to do that."
Defensively, Ridgeland is led by senior linebacker Jymal Ellis, who has 135 total tackles, five sacks and three interceptions this season.
"They are very good and very sound defensively," Mitchell said.
The performances by its roster members have led Ridgeland to a 10-3 overall record coming into Friday's game.
The Titans are currently riding a six-game winning streak following last week's 10-9 playoff win over Center Hill.
Ridgeland hasn't lost since the Starkville game earlier in the season, a defeat that will surely be on the Titans' minds as play kicks off Friday.