Game of the Week: Laurel at West Jones

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 11:28 PM CST
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) -It doesn’t get much bigger than Laurel and West Jones in the regular season, but add in the playoff element and it’s just that much more on the line for these two programs.

“It’s going to be crazy because everybody is going to be here,” West Jones offensive lineman Patrick Jordan said.

“It’s a game that’s must-see TV as they say,” West Jones head coach Scott Pierson said.

“It’s win or go home like I said,” Laurel running back Kiron Benjamin said. “It’s my last year and I don’t plan on going home yet.”

“It’s going to be a physical football game,” Laurel head coach Ryan Earnest said. “They’re definitely going to be some licks passed on both sides. This game will not be for the faint of heart.”

The two cross-county rivals will go at it Friday as the Tornadoes travel to take on the Mustangs in the second round of Class 5A playoffs.

“They’re no stranger to this moment but neither are we,” Earnest said. “We’re very familiar with one another.”

Sure enough, these two programs know one another very well. They’ve already faced off once this year with West Jones coming out on top 24-21 but that was a four-quarter battle.

“Every time we play Laurel, it seems to come down to the last snap,” the Mustangs head coach said. “It’s two really good football teams that are going to compete at a high level.”

“We beat them once, but we can’t let that get to our head,” West Jones’ Jordan said.

There’s no room to get comfortable with a regular-season win-just ask Laurel who won last year’s regular-season matchup against the Mustangs but suffered the loss in the postseason.

“The roles have been reversed and to be honest with you, I think that’s a lot of fuel to their fire,” Pierson said. “Let’s see how well we handle it from the other side.”

As for this game, a matchup to watch will be the impenetrable West Jones defense against a high-powered Tornado offense.

“They have a very very powerful defense. We have a very powerful offense as well so it’s matchup with matchup this week,” Laurel’s Benjamin said.

“Coach Pierson is honestly one of the best defensive minds I’ve ever seen in my life and he’s all over it,” Jordan said.

“It’s going to be a test of wills. Kind of the irresistible force against the immovable object,” Earnest said.

Anchoring the Laurel offense, running back Kiron Benjamin.

“I will say this, he is a heck of a running back and probably the best running back we’ve seen all year, much respect for that young man,” Pierson said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us. I think we might rise to the occasion but at the same time I think he’s going to get his.”

“Both teams understand what’s at stake,” Earnest said. “These are two very historic championship programs who are no strangers to this moment.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at West Jones.

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