Winona was strong on offense, but not so much on defense, in its Region 3-3A opener, posting a 56-40 victory over host Coahoma Early College.
“We're not very good on defense,” said coach Joey Tompkins. We're not tackling very well. We have to find some answers on that side of the ball.”
There were no such problems on offense as the Tigers rolled up 534 yards, including 418 on the ground. “We have some dynamic playmakers,” Tompkins said. “A lot of times when it's not executed right, we have guys who can make plays.”
The most dynamic is quarterback An'Darius Coffey who had another spectacular game. He ran 11 times for 194 yards and five touchdowns and completed eight of 10 passes for 116 yards and one TD. He was complemented by tailback Blake Cooper, with 21 carries for 181 yards and two TDs.
Malcolm Gholston led the Tigers in tackles with six. Saveon Gross had an interception.
Winona started fast, jumping out to a 28-8 first quarter lead on three TD runs by Coffey, including a 65-yarder, and one by Cooper. The Tiger stretched the lead to 42-16 at the half as Coffey threw an 18-yard scoring pass to Dadrion Small and ran five yards for a TD.
Winona added second half touchdowns on runs of 11 yards by Coffey and 10 yards by Cooper.
Quarterback Willie Eagins and running back Christopher Russell had big games for Coahoma, which totaled 464 yards on offense, 306 on the ground. Eagins competed eight passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns and ran 11 times for 59 yards and one TD. Russell had 12 carries for 162 yards, including an 80-yard run for Coahoma's first TD.
“I looked for something we did well on defense and I haven't found it yet,” Tompkins said. “We're good at giving up big plays.”
Coahoma was also five for five on two-point conversions. “We gave up five two-point conversions. I've never heard of that before,” Tompkins said.
Now 6-1 and 1-0 in 3-3A, Winona has three more region games during the regular season, beginning on the road Friday against Humphreys County at Belzoni. That will be followed by home games with Amanda Elzy and Ruleville Central.
Humphreys County is winless in seven games, including a 24-0 loss to Coahoma, but Tompkins is not taking the Cowboys lightly. “To me, they're better than Coahoma. Their defense is better. They haven't been scoring many points, but neither had Coahoma.
“I just don't know what to expect.”
Offense has been the problem for Humphreys County. The Cowboys have been shut out three times, including the past two games.
Amanda Elzy is also 1-0 in region play with an 8-0 victory over Ruleville Central. Ruleville Central and Coahoma are 1-1 and Humphreys County 0-2.
The top four qualify for the MHSAA 3A playoffs which begin Nov. 8 with opening round games against teams from 4-3A. The top two will have home games.