FOXWORTH, Miss. (WDAM) - When it comes to rivalries, one can typically throw records out.
But in the case of Columbia and West Marion high schools, don’t.
At least not over the past few years, when long, undefeated stretches of the season were common.
And, despite the twists and turns of 2020, both teams have flexed their muscles once again and come into their Marion County and Region 8-3A showdown as two of the Pine Belt’s Class 3A power programs.
“I was telling somebody the other day, they’re a complete team,” Columbia coach Chip Bilderback said. "West Marion’s really good on offense, they’re really good on defense and they’re sound in the special teams.
“So, there’s really not anywhere for us to take advantage of.”
West Marion coach Brad Duncan said both teams have the same mentality.
“It’s kind of like the mirror image of each another,” Duncan said. “They’re bigger than us, but both of us want to grind the ball, play good, sound, solid defense. So, it’s kind of going to be the battle of who can get it done and who can’t get it done.”
Omar Johnson leads the ground assault for Columbia (6-0, 2-0 Region 8-3A) with 543 yards and six touchdowns. But Johnson has plenty of help, with Josh Brown (214 yards, five TDs), Jonathan Wiltz (177 yards, three touchdowns) and Greg Fortenberry (174 yards, three touchdowns) sharing the backfield duties.
Carter Smith has completed 18-of-28 passes for 342 yards and seven touchdowns. Brown leads the Wildcats with eight catches for 114 yards and two scores, while Dashod Ball has four catches for 101 yards and three touchdowns.
West Marion (4-2, 1-1) also likes to share the wealth.
Jartavious Martin leads the Trojans' running game with 633 yards and five touchdowns, but Octavious Harvey (292 yards, four TDs), Ja’Kaden Mark (233 yards, six TDs) and Larry Magee 175 yards, TD) all have made their mark.
The Trojans have taken to the air more often than the Wildcats. Quarterback Jayden Duncan has completed 49-of-84 passes for 738 yards and 11 touchdowns with three interceptions.
Qavonte Swanigan has 25 catches for 458 yards and five touchdowns, while Magee has 10 catches for 165 yards and three scores.
“It’s one of those games everybody marks on their schedules, which is any game where Marion County teams play each other,” Bilderback said. “But this, being in the (region), these games have even so much more implications for what really, really matters and that’s the playoffs.”