An'Darius Coffey and Blake Cooper were a dynamic duo on offense for Winona in a 34-14 victory over J.Z. George.
Coffey was 16 of 19 passing for 182 yards and two touchdowns and ran 11 times for 103 yards and one TD. Cooper carried 12 times for 98 yards and two TDs and caught three passes for 49 yards and two more six-pointers. Cooper has been battling an ankle sprain suffered in a preseason scrimmage with Senatobia that limited his production the first three weeks of the season. He was still only about 90 percent for J.Z. George, according to Coach Joey Tompkins, but his 98 rushing yards were more than he had the first three games.
In four games, Coffey had completed 45 of 58 passes (77.6 percent) for 723 yards and seven touchdowns, with no interceptions, and has carried 70 times for 547 yards (7.8 averaged) and eight TDs.
Defensive end Seimeon Flowers led the Tigers in tackles against J.Z. George with five solos and three assists.
Despite the win, Tompkins was not pleased. “I don't think we played very well in any aspect of the game, not taking anything away from them (J.Z. George). They had a really good game plan.”
Tompkins said the Tigers had some big plays offensively, but there were mistakes.
“We fumbled the ball once going in. Stuff that is uncharacteristic of us. We were out of position a lot on defense. We have a lot of stuff to work on.”
J.Z. George went ahead 6-0 in the first quarter on a one-yard TD run by Jordun Normal. Winona took a lead it never relinquished at 7-6 still in the first quarter on a nine-yard pass from Coffey to Cooper and a PAT by Cade Eldridge.
The Tigers stretched the lead to 20-6 on two Cooper TD runs, three yards in the second period and 31 yards in the third quarter. J.Z. George cut the lead to 20-14 after three quarters when Deriaun Townsend broke loose on a 58-yard run.
Coffey accounted for two fourth quarter TDs, a 21-yard pass to Cooper and a 65-yard run.
With the game well in hand, sophomore quarterback Jekeyvion Burnley and sophomore running back Dennis Turner replaced Coffey and Cooper in the fourth quarter.
“Both of them need reps,” Tompkins said. “It’s important for us to play a bunch of people, especially during the heat.”
Turner responded with four carries for 49 yards. He also had four solo tackles and one assist as a defensive back.
The next two opponents will be the two best teams the Tigers have faced, according to Tompkins. Winona plays at Yazoo County Friday and has a home game with Water Valley next week.
Yazoo County is 3-1 with victories over Kosciusko, Yazoo City and North Forrest and a 20-13 loss to Charleston. The Panthers outscored their last two opponents 78-8 – a 46-8 win against Yazoo City and a 32-0 blanking of North Forrest.
“We will have our hands full this week, that's for sure,” Tompkins said. “They (Yazoo County) have really, really good players. They're two years away from playing for the state championship.”
The Panthers won North State in 2017 before losing to Jefferson Davis County in the title game.
Two key players for Yazoo County are running back Kory Gainwell and wide receiver Corey Rucker. Gainwell is the younger brother of University of Memphis starting tailback Kenneth Gainwell. Rucker played for Yazoo County as a freshman and sophomore in 2016 and 2017, spent last year at Madison Central, then transferred back to Yazoo County. He is rated a three-star recruit who has committed to South Alabama.
Water Valley (3-0) is the defending 3A state champion.
Winona is 4-0 with 18 consecutive regular season victories. J.Z. George, a much improved team over last year, is 2-2.