The Winona Christian Stars enter the MAIS Class 3A playoffs this week s as the No. 2 seed in 3A and are coming off a bye week, earned for being one of the top seeds.
“I’m glad we won our district, but I don’t know if I like the off week,” WCS Coach Junior Graham said. “We had a lot of rain and didn’t get out as much as we wanted. We lifted a couple of days and watched film. But not knowing your opponent, it’s hard to go back and game plan for two people and the two teams playing were polar opposites. I’ve got real mixed feelings about this bye. I’ve never been a part of one in the playoffs. But we did get to go scout first hand.”
The Tigers of Centreville Academy, this week’s opponents for WCS, are 5-6 on the season under legendary coach Bill Hurst. The Tigers have wins over New Orleans Home School (30-7), Amite (38-23), Porter’s Chapel (44-6), Newton County Academy (32-0) and Greenville Christian (30-22). They have losses to Bowling Green (14-12), Silliman (36-6), Brookhaven (24-20), Sylva-Bay (28-16) and Cathedral (44-42).
Last year, Centreville beat Winona 38-14 in the second round of the playoffs.
Graham said he was glad to get to see the 2019 version of the Tigers in person on Friday night.
“I think Centreville gets a bad rap,” Graham said. “They are one of the most diversified teams you will see. They are good at executing out of multiple formations. They have some good trick plays and are good at them and they are really solid in the kicking game. Their punt returns are really good.
Graham was also impressed with how physical Centreville was.
“This is my fifth year in this league and they may have the best pad level of anybody that I have played,” Graham said. “You don’t ever see them just stand up. They are going to have good pad level. We will have our hands full. We have to play extremely well and match their physicality.”
Graham said the bye week was good to let some players heal up and the team is healthy heading into the contest.
The Stars, 8-2 on the year, lost two out of their last three games after racing out to a 7-0 start.
“We are going to have to be able to throw the ball and move the chains and have some explosive plays,” Graham said. “You aren’t going to be able to run the ball consistently against them. They do a lot of blitzes and that’s tough against the run. We have to do a good job up front. And the thing is they do a good job of not tipping their hands at what they are doing.”