Saturday’s Class 4A state title game in Oxford will feature a distinct contrast in styles.
East Central (13-0) has never played for a state title while Noxubee County (10-4) is seeking its fifth Class 4A state championship since 2008.
East Central is a run-first squad that can break the big gainer on any given snap.
Noxubee County has a spread offense that is just as likely to air it out as it is to hand it off.
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Which style wins out will be decided at 3 p.m. Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
It seems unlikely that East Central has faced a passing attack this season that is the caliber of Noxubee County. Senior quarterback Armoni Clark has completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,391 yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Clark has a pair of talented targets: Senior receiver Rashad Eades has 48 catches for 1004 yards and 13 touchdowns. Junior receiver Kyziah Pruitt has pulled in 74 passes for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The game may very well be decided by how well the East Central secondary can manage the Noxubee County passing game.
There’s little doubt that East Central defensive coordinator David Hudson will be calling plenty of blitzes to make sure the Hornets’ front seven takes the pressure off the Hornets’ defensive backs.
The good news for East Central fans is that what the Hornets do best — put pressure on the opponent. Whether it’s on offense, special teams or defense, East Central has found ways to create problems for teams all season.
Noxubee County has had no issues with Coast teams in the past in the state title round. The Tigers beat D’Iberville 12-10 in 2008, St. Stanislaus 48-27 in 2014 and SSC again, 44-23, in 2015.
East Central is a very different team than any of those three squads, a run-heavy squad that is typically much more physical than the opponent.
East Central is also not lacking in experienced offensive talent with senior quarterback Rylee Brown, senior running back Tony Brown and senior tight end Brad Cumbest leading the way.
If Noxubee County wants a shootout, East Central is up for the challenge.
My prediction: East Central 45, Noxubee County 31.
Who: Noxubee County vs. East Central
When: 3 p.m., Saturday
Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford
Radio: WPMO 1580-AM, 96.9 FM
TV: WLOX-Bounce TV (13.3)