The 2019 Winona football season did not end the way the team and its fans hoped – the Tigers were eliminated from the 3A playoffs with an opening game loss to Houston. But the season did produce highlight victories over the defending state champion and a team that reached the 2019 North State title game.
Winona won a shoot-out against defending champion Water Valley 54-35 and defeated Region 4-3A winner Choctaw County 42-14.
The Water Valley game produced nearly 1,000 years of total offense, including 486 by Winona. Senior quarterback An'Darius Coffey had an outstanding game, which was typical of his season. He completed all seven pass attempts for 154 yards and three touchdowns and ran 20 times for 207 yards and two TDs.
But he wasn't the only Tiger to have a strong game on offense. Robert McBath had four receptions for 112 yards and two TDs and Blake Cooper carried 14 times for 98 yards and one score.
The defense surrendered 465 yards, but came up with key interceptions by Malcolm Gholston, Tay'shaun Pointer and Zaevion Ward.
Water Valley had a couple of offensive standouts of its own. Quarterback Jacob Truss ran and passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns and Dre McCray ran 17 times for 139 yards and two TDs.
Winona fell behind 21-13 after a fast-paced first quarter, but turned the game around with four second period TDs, including special team and defensive touchdowns. After Water Valley pulled even at 28-28, Adavion Hargrove returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. Then Pointer took his interception 25 yards to the end zone to make it 40-28 at the half.
The Tigers traveled to Ackerman the second week of the season and came away with a 42-14 victory over a Choctaw County team that won 4-3A and reached the North State final. Coffey had another big game, totaling 390 yards and five TDs. That included a play worthy of ESPN’s Top 10 Plays of the Day.
Midway through the third quarter, Winona faced a third and long at its own one yard line. Hargrove ran a fly pattern and Coffey hit him in stride near midfield. He went the rest of the way untouched for a 99-yard TD.
The defense did its part, holding a high powered Choctaw County offense scoreless in the second half.