Northside, Charleston match-up fitting for North Half Title Game
With Thanksgiving weekend upon us, we still have one area team left high school football.
The Northside High School Gators (13-0) will be taking on the Charleston High School Tigers (10-4) for the 2A North Half Championship Friday night at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale at 7 p.m. The winner of this contest will play in the 2A State Championship game in Hattiesburg on Dec. 7.
When I look at the match-up between these two teams, it’s the type of game that is a must-see for football fans in this area.
The Northside High School Gators, in just their second year, are undefeated through 13 games. The Gators put the pedal to the metal on day one and haven’t let up yet. The Gators’ defense has remained second-to-none by outscoring their opponents 158-8 in three postseason games. For the season, Northside has only given up 28 total points while scoring 578. The only team in the Mississippi High School Activities Association that has score more total points than Northside is 5A Picayune (677). The 28 points Northside has given up are the fewest of any team in the MHSAA.
Despite their success, the Gators have been a highly overlooked team throughout the year. The Gators weren’t ranked in the Mississippi Associated Press 2A Top 5A Poll for most of the year. The Gators were able to crack the top five, entering at No. 5 toward the end of the year and entered the playoffs ranked No. 5. To advance to the North Half Title game, Northside defeated East Webster 42-8. East Webster was ranked No. 4 in the 2A Poll.
To get to the state championship game, the Gators will have to beat the tradition-rich Charleston High School Tigers. The Tigers, who are in their first year of 2A after moving down from 3A, are appearing in a North Half Title game for the ninth time in the last 16 years. This is the first time that Charleston is appearing in a North Half Title game since 2016 when the team won the 3A North State Title.
During the regular season, Northside and Charleston both competed in Region 3-2A with Northside winning that game 22-8 on Oct. 11 in Charleston. Northside ended up winning the region with Charleston finishing second. The second-place finish in region play marked just the second in the last 12 years that Charleston failed to win its region. In fact, the loss was only the second loss in region play for Charleston in the last 12 years. Since the loss to Northside, Charleston has won its last six games.
Northside currently has a 16-game winning streak dating back to last year, while Charleston has won at least 10 games in a season 10 times in the last 11 years with 19 straight playoff appearances and 20 straight winning seasons. Charleston was unranked heading into the playoffs. To advance to the North Half Title Game, Charleston defeated Calhoun City 6-3.
On a side note, Northside head football coach Tavares Johnson, Sr. has an extensive history with Charleston. During his time as head coach at East Side from 2006-11, the Trojans went 1-5. When Northside defeated Charleston this year, it was Johnson’s first win as a coach against the Tigers since 2006 when East Side defeated Charleston 26-18. The last time Johnson coached against Charleston in the playoffs was in 2011 when the Tigers defeated the Trojans in a thrilling 44-34 high scoring showdown in the 3A North Half Title game in Charleston.
Johnson’s Gators were able to get that first big win against the Tigers to beat them out for the region championship. Can the Gators take that next step and beat the Tigers for the North Half Championship and a trip to the 2A State Title Game? We shall see.
Friday night when you get through with that afternoon Black Friday shopping, if you want to see some great football action with two of the best teams in the state of Mississippi, James E. Miller Stadium on the campus of Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale is the best place to be.
I’ll see you Friday night.
Andy Collier is the sports editor at The Bolivar Commercial. He can be reached at (662)-843-4241 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.