West Jones is not the same team that ended D'Iberville's season last year.
The Mustangs (10-3) lost all 11 offensive starters from the squad that thumped D'Iberville 37-14 in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs last year at Soso. West Jones reached the 4A quarterfinals, losing to eventual state champion Laurel.
West Jones brings a completely different unit to South Mississippi for Friday night's Class 4A South State championship game at Warrior Stadium.
"We're just hoping to compete this season after losing so much from a year ago," Mustangs coach Scott Pierson said. "We didn't have a single kid back on offense. We were starting over and had only three defensive starters back."
Never miss a local story.
West Jones coming off a 10-7 upset over top-ranked and previously unbeaten Wayne County in the South State semifinals last week at home. The War Eagles were favored to win the 4A State title, but West Jones had other ideas.
"We play in a very tough Region 5-4A," Pierson said. "We went 3-3, losing to Quitman, Wayne County and Northeast Jones. We've been playing well the last three games."
Running back Rodrick McCullum leads the Mustangs' offense, overcoming a slow start to crank it up during the postseason.
Defensive end Brian Wells and linebacker Devontae Burnett lead a hard-hitting, physical Mustang defense that seldom allows the big play.
"We don't do anything offensively or defensively that scares people," Pierson said. "We just play well together as a team. McCullum has come on lately."
The Mustangs' 22-member senior class took it upon themselves to continue the winning. West Jones won 64 games between 2002 and last year.
"The kids have great attitudes and wanted to win," Pierson said. "They play hard and are used to winning. They love to compete."
West Jones will need that fighting spirit against a talent-laden D'Iberville squad on Friday night.