Winona High School head coach Joey Tompkins wasn’t kidding when he said he knew what he had at quarterback this season in Chase Richardson.
The 5-foot-10 junior had 406 yards of total offense in leading the Tigers to a 40-29 win over Choctaw County High School last Friday night at Starkville High School’s field.
The game was moved from Ackerman after heavy rains hit the area during the week.
“We know what we’ve got in Chase,” said Tompkins. “Chase came in during his freshman year in the fifth game of the season when Jekeyvion (Burnley) broke his ankle. He took us to the North State championship game that season.
“He’s such a good athlete and a good all-around kid. He can play anywhere on the field because of his athleticism. The offense runs through him, and we are a little faster this year than we were last season. We want to run as many plays as possible, and Chase has a good understanding of the offense. As he goes, we go. The other kids really look up to him. It’s a tight-knit group.”
Richardson, who played wide receiver as a sophomore with the return of Burnley at quarterback, ran for five touchdowns and threw for a sixth in leading the Tigers to their season-opening win.
After Choctaw County, a Class 2A school, opened the game with a safety on a special teams mistake by Winona and a TD pass for an 8-0 advantage, Richardson got the Tigers on the scoreboard with a 26-yard run in the first period to make it 8-6.
Richardson gave his team a brief 14-8 lead as he scored from five yards out in the second quarter. The Chargers held a slim 15-14 lead at the half after scoring from three yards out and a PAT.
“We did not play our best football in the first half,” said Tompkins. “It really wasn’t anything they were doing, but what we were doing to ourselves. We had two turnovers, penalties and bad snaps that negated drives.
“We came out and played better in the second half. Our defense didn’t tackle well at all. Choctaw has a good running back, and he’s elusive. Choctaw is going to be one of the better teams in North 2A. We were fortunate to be able to come out and pull away in the third quarter. They are a good football team.”
The Tigers scored three times in the third. Richardson crossed the goal line from two yards out early in the period, and he then threw a 59-yard TD strike to Troylando Eden. Aubrey Bailey booted the PAT to make it 27-15. The final score came on a three-yard run from Richardson for a 33-15 advantage headed to the fourth quarter.
Choctaw County pulled to within 12 at 33-21 on a 13-yard run. The Tigers scored their final TD on a one-yard run by Richardson and an extra point kick from Bailey. The Chargers tacked on one more TD later in the quarter.
Richardson finished 8-of-15 for 216 yards and one TD. He ran for 148 yards on 19 carries. Zaishun Nash tacked on 89 yards on 15 carries, and Danarius Robinson had 35 yards on seven tries before suffering a broken fibula. Tompkins said Robinson was examined Monday to determine if surgery would be required.
Eden had four receptions for 116 yards, and Tristin Purnell had three grabs for 95 yards.
The Tigers’ defense was led by Tyler Lockhart, who had four solos and six assists. Fred Clark tacked on two solos and seven assists, and A’jerrian Garrett had four solos and four assists. Jemarius Sanders had a solo and seven assists.
Javien Jackson had four solos and two assists, and Ja’Mes Bays had four solos and one assist. Kamron Robinson had four total tackles and an interception.
The Tigers entertain Kosciusko Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Whippets opened their season with a 35-14 win over Yazoo County.
“Kosciusko will have one of the better defenses we will have faced in the last year,” said Tompkins. “We will have our hands full generating any offense against them. They are putting it all back together after a couple of down years. They lost in the first round of the 4A playoffs last year in the first round to Caledonia.”