Game of the Week: Poplarville at Columbia

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 1:07 PM CST
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COLUMBIA, Miss. (WDAM) - Football practice on Thanksgiving is practically a new tradition for Columbia as it prepares for the South State Championship for the third year in a row.

The Wildcats fell short the last two years, but they believe this team is unique.

“I think this team is different. I think it’s special,” Columbia head coach Chip Bilderback said. “Not that the other teams weren’t, but they’ve got a different type of mindset.”

“I think this group has been through the fire enough,” Wildcats quarterback Carter Smith said. “Three heartbreaks the last three years and I think we’re ready for it this year.”

Before Columbia can punch its ticket to the State Championship, they’ll have to go through Poplarville.

“They’re a run the ball team. To me, there’s a lot of similarities. We want to run the ball. They want to run the ball. They want to play tough defense. We want to play tough defense. So, there’s a lot of similarities in that. We just do it from a gun standpoint, from a shotgun. They do it from a wing T, so we know it’s going to take a lot of effort. We know it’s going to take a lot of physicality and that’s kind of who we’ve been and I think that’s who they’re trying to be too. So it’s going to be who can outlast each other and I think it’s going to be a four-quarter war,” Bilderback said.

These two teams have already faced off once with Columbia coming out on top 27-3, but the Wildcats aren’t finding any comfort in that regular-season win.

“It really means nothing now,” Smith said. “Just best team Friday night is going to advance. That’s all that matters.”

“We got a feel the first time what they’re going to be like, how they’re going to play, how they run the ball, how they play defense,” Poplarville linebacker Khalid Moore said. “So, it helps a lot that we get the chance to play them a second time.”

“I think every week has its own season and this week our main goal is to go 1-0. What happened before is in the past and we can’t worry about the future because you don’t know. Friday at 9:30 hopefully we got our contract renewed for a week and we can play football for another week,” Bilderback said.

The Wildcats are averaging over 34 points a game thanks in part to running back Omar Johnson and quarterback Carter Smith. Smith knows what his offense needs to do to secure a ‘W’.

“Keep chopping. Next play, so what. Keep going, execute. I think our receivers are clicking, quarterback, running backs- I think we’re just clicking on all cylinders right now,” the Wildcats quarterback said

“I think the energy is going to be there. I think there’s going to be so much excitement from this area on two teams that have really been the top two teams in 4A. So, for us to make it here, one that’s a great credit for both of us but two now it’s going to be a battle Friday night,” Bilderback said.

Kickoff is set for 7 pm at Columbia.

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