Nanih Waiya vs. Simmons: Two unbeaten teams, one game, zero weaknesses
Something has to give.
Undefeated Nanih Waiya and undefeated Simmons have been on a collision course since September, and the only debate left is which is the unstoppable force and which is the immovable object.
We’ll find out at 11 a.m. Friday, when the two teams meet in the 1A State Championship at Vaught Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
Simmons (14-0) is the two-time defending champ that comes into this year's title game having won 39 straight.
First-year head coach Wade Tackett picked up right where his predecessor Tavares Johnson left off, and the Blue Devils have not lost a game since Nov. 21, 2014.
"It's been awesome," Tackett said. "This is the job I wanted. I spent time at Simmons as an offensive coordinator years ago, and when it came open I pressed hard for the job."
He landed it and was direct when he addressed the team for the first time.
"I told them that they may not have chosen me, but I chose them," he said. 'It's just a dream come true."
They've responded — Tackett's Blue Devils have outscored 14 opponents by a combined score of 648-56.
Senior tailback/defensive back Marquez Pam has been a big part of that success. He's run for 1,929 yards and 35 touchdowns, averaging nearly 130 yards and three touchdowns a game.
"Everyone knows about Marquez Pam and we've tried to build him up to our guys," Nanih Waiya coach Ryan Keeton said. "I know they want to be the first team to shut him down, but some teams have gotten themselves in trouble putting too much emphasis on him, because they have some other guys that can hurt you."
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Keeton has a few of his own, too.
Nanih Waiya (15-0) has won every game its played by an average of 38.4 points, and that includes a 36-32 win over Resurrection Catholic in the South State Championship last week.
The Warriors' one-two punch of tailbacks Taemaus Glass and Chris Smith gives them a dynamic that no other team in 1A enjoys.
Both players were 1,000-yard rushers last year when they led their team to the South State Championship before falling 50-48 to Lumberton in overtime.
This year, the seniors are both over 1,500 yards and they've carried Nanih Waiya to the state championship. The recipe for Warriors is to get both involved and get them going early. The two combined for 335 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Resurrection.
"Scheme-wise they are a nightmare," Tackett said. "Then they have a quarterback (Bryce Stanton) who is very smart and very well-composed.
"They are by far the best team we have played or will play."