Time for Big-Time Players

Note: This column was scheduled to run in Thursday’s editions, but space did not allow.

This is the time of year when big-time players do big-time things. The gauntlet that is the football playoffs will provide no moral victories, only glorious triumph or bitter defeat; success or failure, period.
Here’s what’s so beautiful about the playoffs, though: The big-time players aren’t always the well-known ones. You expect guys like Richard Freelon, Michael Ledbetter and William Shumpert to make plays. Freshman field goal kickers? Not so much.
Yet Corinth’s Jordan Parker, a freshman kicker, found himself staring at a 42-yard field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter of a Class 3A playoff game at Winona last Friday. That’s enough pressure to crush a Hummer.
Parker promptly booted it through with 14 ticks left to give the Warriors a 24-21 victory. According to the guys at the Daily Corinthian, that was a freshman record and the second-longest playoff field goal in team history. By the way, Parker is 4-for-7 on field goals.
Aberdeen tailback Jamerson Love, a 5-foot-8 sophomore, has made an impact this season. But he’s been overshadowed by a potent passing attack led by quarterback Marcus Hinton and receivers Tevin Blanchard and Rickey Bell.
In a 14-12 3A win over Booneville, Love broke off a 66-yard touchdown run that proved the difference.
Baldwyn looked like it might be in trouble against Ackerman when quarterback Wesley Wildmon went down with a twisted ankle in the first quarter. The Bearcats were leading 7-6, but junior backup Koty King coolly led them to a 40-12 win. King, who’s been running Baldwyn’s offense since seventh grade, was 8-for-14 for 95 yards and two scores in the 2A first-round game.
More new heroes could be minted tonight.
I doubt anyone will stop Freelon, the Bruce tailback who’s rushed for 2,352 yards in 11 games, but the continued improvement of quarterback Shuanvanta Ingram will be crucial for the Trojans, who travel to South Delta for a 2A playoff game.
Shaquille Wilson has been running wild of late for Okolona – over the last three games, the junior has rushed for 426 yards and four touchdowns. Coach Ken Byars expects Wilson to add some extra offensive punch against Greenville St. Joseph in a 1A playoff opener.
Vardaman opens the 1A playoffs this week as well, going to Benoit Brooks, and the Rams have made it in despite some quarterback troubles. Starter DeAndre Platt was lost for the season in September, but freshman Damon Johnson has filled in capably.
But we’re in the playoffs now. What’s happened thus far matters not.
He’s no superstar, but Johnson has a chance to make something really big happen. Everybody does.

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