As No. 9 River Oaks prepares to travel to No. 1 Centreville Friday for the second round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools playoffs, head coach Robert Hannah is carrying a simple message to his team.
“It is going to take our best effort of the year to win,” Hannah said. “We have to be able to slow them down and tackle well. (Centreville) is very physical.”
The class of the MAIS this year in Class AA, Centreville (10-1) has steamrolled the competition like few teams this year, including a monumental 73-38 pounding of No. 16 Hartfield Academy last Friday.
The game will feature a true contrast in styles with River Oaks being balanced and Centreville leaning heavily on the physical running game that has them on top right now.
Against Hartfield, Centreville had no one rusher over 100 yards on the ground, but the team was very effective.
John Marcus McDowell led the Tigers with 87 yards on four carries while Tyler Caston rushed for 74 yards on only five carries and Austin Addington totaled 54 yards on two carries.
“Centreville is such a hard running team,” Hannah said. “They don’t have very big kids, but the backs just run so hard at you. It is going to be a challenge for us, and we have to find a way to put a stop to it.”
River Oaks (7-4) features fullback Drake Porter (842 yards on 161 carries) who has returned from ankle injuries to give the team their own physical presence.
“Drake has been doing a great job, and we were able to mix things up great in the second half (last week in 43-42 win at Winona Christian),” Hannah said. “Jacob Griggs (349 yards on 31 carries) is running hard. We have been running (quarterback) Brendan (Macgregor) more.”
Macgregor had one of the biggest performances of his career last week with 46 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries and 241 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-28 passing.
“Brendan is doing a great job for us,” Hannah said. “We have to take care of the football (four interceptions last week). We do those things we will be fine.”
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No. 9 River Oaks (7-4) at No. 1 Centreville Academy (10-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. KMLB 540 AM
Who/What to watch: River Oaks — QB Brendan Macgregor passed for 241 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 46 yards and a score last week.
Get in the game: Centreville scored a playoff best 73 points last week in a 73-38 win over Hartfield Academy. The second most points in the first-round was 54 scored by Class A Marshall Academy.