Out of all the teams playing in the state championship games, Biggersville’s season has been the most dominant.
While Lumberton hopes to win the state title that it fell short of last year, Biggersville trying to win its first-ever state championship in its first-ever appearance in the title game.
From the Ground Up
Fifth-year coach Stan Platt has done an amazing job in turning a traditional losing program into one of the most feared football teams in the North.
At the start of his coaching tenure in July of 2016, Platt had just eight players on his roster. Platt grew the roster to 17 before the start of the season, but at one point in 2016, Platt had 13 players on the roster and still managed to win a game against Thrasher.
Through the help of the basketball and baseball coaches, Platt now fields a roster of 33. In his first season, Platt finished 4-8, but in the last three years, the Lions posted a combined record of 41-8.
In 2016, Platt had a very talented group of eighth-graders that he focused on building his program around, which now makes up the 11 seniors on his roster.
“I had a real good eighth-grade team because I also coached junior high,” Platt said. “My eighth graders were really good. I knew they had a chance to be special down the road. That’s who I really focused on. Nine of my starters were freshman the year we went 8-4 (in 2017) and got into the playoffs for the first time. We have built that team around that eighth-grade group. I graduate 11 seniors this year, and they were all part of that eighth-grade group.”
How They Got Here
Biggersville’s undefeated season has barely been challenged. On the year, the Lions have outscored teams 538-77. Its offense has averaged 49 points per game.
The Lions’ playoff run has been slightly more contested. In the first round, Biggersville defeated West Lowndes and held a 20-14 lead in the fourth quarter, but then scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
In the second round, Biggersville rematched Tupelo Christian School, which the Lions beat earlier in the season 46-21. Biggersville trailed 17-14 at the half but put up 18 second-half points to come away with a 32-17 win.
Its biggest win of the playoffs came in a shutout over the defending 1A state champions. In Biggersville’s 26-0 win, the Lions forced five turnovers against an undefeated Nanih Waiya team that was averaging 35 points per game.
Three Different Quarterbacks
Injuries at quarterback have been somewhat of a plague for Biggersville as the Lions will be starting their third quarterback this season in the state championship game.
Before the first game of the season, senior starter Quinton Knight went down with a season-ending injury. The 6-foot-3, three-year starter in his junior season threw for 807 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for 430 yards and seven touchdowns.
“It’s been unfortunate,” Platt said. “One of my seniors that worked real hard got hurt and tore his ACL. He was a great quarterback. I found that out in early August, so I had to make changes.”
Knight was then replaced by freshman Drew Rowsey, who posted a respectable year in his first year. In his first year starting, he has thrown for 622 yards, 14 touchdowns, three interceptions to go with a 69% completion rate and has rushed for 343 yards and nine touchdowns. However, Rowsey went down with a collarbone injury in the West Lowndes game.
“I went to one of my freshman from the junior high program that we had,” Jones said. “Drew Rowsey, who has had an exceptional year. He was having a great year. Unfortunately, after a big run against West Lowndes, he got tackled and broke his collarbone.”
Taking over the quarterback duties was Drew’s older brother Dylan Rowsey. Rowsey was and is primarily a starting member of the Lions’ secondary. Luckily for Biggersville, Dylan has also had moderate success. He has finished 5 of 10 and thrown 62 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and has run for 197 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s done a fantastic job,” Platt said. “He’s led the team well in the last two playoff games against TCPS and Nanih Waiya. He has taken good control of it, and I feel very confident in him.”
Notably, Star running back Goldman Butler has also stepped in to play quarterback at times. His most notable game came against Tupelo Christian Prep in the playoffs, in which he threw three touchdown passes.
Who to Watch For
While it’s safe to say that Lumberton running back Robert Henry and Biggersville’s Butler will put on a show and the game could come down to whose teammates come up with a big play first.
One of the quieter pieces of Biggersville’s offense is wide receiver and cornerback Zae Davis. Davis has rushed for 296 yards and three touchdowns and is also the Lions’ top wide receiver. On the year, Davis has hauled in 19 catches, 286 yards and eight touchdowns.
Davis also has eight interceptions with three returned for touchdowns along with three punt return touchdowns and one kickoff touchdown.
“Zae has done a great job,” Platt said. “He is a receiver and running back and really our athlete that we put out there.”
Biggersville and Lumberton’s and matchup could feature the two best defenses in Class 1A as both teams notably shutout their opponents in their semifinal games.
The Lions have forced five shutouts this year and have held teams to an average of seven points per game, with the most points scored on them being 21 in the first game of the season against TCPS.
One of the top members of Biggersville’s defense is defensive lineman Di’renzo Shield, 9.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss, six fumble recoveries with two for touchdowns.
Lumberton has pitched five total shutouts as a team and has held teams to 6.5 points per game. The most points scored on Lumberton was 32 points, which came in the Panthers’ first game and only loss this season to Bay Springs.
“That defense swarms the ball, and they like to stunt,” Platt said. “They have no trouble shutting down the teams they play. They play together as one whole. I’m hoping we have two great running backs against two great defenses and should be an old fashioned black and blue football game.”
Kickoff for the 1A State Championship will be at 3 p.m. at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.