November 13, 2012 4:11:54 PM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
MACON -- The numbers have been flying around Tyrone Shorter since Friday.
Shorter's Noxubee County High School football team defeated two-time defending Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A state champion Lafayette County 14-0 on Friday night in Macon.
Senior Darrell Robinson scored on an 83-yard run in the first quarter. The touchdown was part of a 161-yard evening that helped the Tigers improve to 13-0. Three more victories will help Noxubee County win its second state football championship and become the first football team in school history to go 16-0.
But before Shorter and the Tigers realize any of those numbers they will have to get past Itawamba Agricultural High at 7 p.m. Friday in Fulton. The winner of that game will take on the winner of the Houston-Louisville game in the North State title game next week at a site to be determined.
Shorter knows the final score against Lafayette might not appear too impressive, but he said he isn't worried about style points at this stage of the season. If you doubt him, remember Noxubee County beat West Point 6-0 earlier this season.
"I think we attempted six or seven passes (five) throughout the whole game (against Lafayette), and I am fine with that," Shorter said. "Coach (Chris) Chambless has won a bunch of state championships at West Point. That is all they do: Run the ball and play good defense. If we can win a championship doing the same thing they did -- a 2-0 ballgame or a 3-0 ballgame -- we'll take that."
On Monday, Shorter doesn't mind if his team wins 2-0, 3-0, or 4-0 as long as it wins. If it has to rely on a running game that features Robinson as the workhorse behind an experienced offensive line, he will do it. He is content not to take chances on offense because he knows he has a strong defense that notched its fifth shutout of the season last week.
To continue that march, Shorter said the Tigers will stick to their game plan and run the ball until someone stops them. Lafayette County did its best to do that, stacking the box in an attempt to stop Robinson. But Shorter said Robinson's touchdown deflated Lafayette County and set the tone for Noxubee County. In the second quarter, Antravion Jamison returned an interception for a score to give the Tigers cushion. A two-score lead allowed Shorter to stay with the running game and control the clock. He said he will follow that plan as long as it is successful.
Shorter figures Itawamba AHS also will keep the football on the ground with running backs Ashton Shumpert (1,732 yards, 25 touchdowns, according to maxpreps.om) and Charles Moore (1,333, 22), and quarterback Tyler Dossett (1,142 passing yards, 11 touchdowns). If that's the case, Shorter likes his defense's chances.
"I think this game will come down to who plays the best defense," Shorter said. "I think it is going to be a physical football game. We anticipate Itawamba going to try to stack the box and stop No. 28."
Shorter felt the pounding of the running game wore down Lafayette County. He feels the schedule his team has played has given it confidence it will break a big play if it keeps working hard.
On defense, Shorter said the Tigers received a lift with the return of senior defensive lineman Dylan Bradley. He said Shumpert and Moore team to form one of the state toughest combinations. Still, he likes the Tigers' experience, quickness, and physical style of play, even if his team has to go on the road to prove its case.
"We have our hands full," Shorter said. "We know we're going to have to play a solid football game defensively to come out of there with a win.
"I feel really good going into football game. This game might be a 6-0 or a 7-0 ballgame, or a very close football game, but we know we can play any type of game. We just came out of one Friday night, and we were in one earlier in the year against West Point."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.