Cougars eye remaining undefeated
By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Nov. 22, 2001
DECATUR While the turkey will taste great today, somebody will endure a bad feeling deep in the pit of their stomach Friday night when the Newton County-Collins playoff game ends.
Neither team has lost on the field this fall, leaving one to taste a very bitter defeat for the first time in the Class 3A third-round playoff contest.
True, Collins comes in with a 10-2 record, but the losses were the result of forfeits from using an ineligible player in wins over Class 4A playoff participants Lawrence County and Quitman.
Newton County edged Collins 7-0 in the first round of the 2000 playoffs at Decatur.
This year's Tigers have impressive wins over Taylorsville (28-7) and Northeast Jones (42-23) in back-to-back weeks.
Newton County enters the contest with a perfect 12-0 mark after ripping West Lauderdale 40-10 last week.
Voncarie Owens, a 178-pound junior running back has rushed for 14 touchdowns this fall for Merchant's Tigers. Junior quarterback Kethone McLaurin has thrown 15 touchdown passes. Other key offensive performers are 173-pound senior running back Marcus Barnes and 165-pound junior wide receiver Brandon McDonald.
The Tigers will remind fans of Mississippi State in recent years as they have scored three touchdowns on kickoff returns, four on interceptions, three on fumble returns, and another on a punt return.
Breland relies on senior punter/kicker David McConnell for all of his kicking chores. McConnell booted a 51-yard field goal last week and had a 53-yarder against Morton earlier in the year. For the year, he's kicked nine field goals and leads Class 3A in kick scoring. McConnell also averages 37.6 yards on 28 punts.
Brooks Buffington of Collins has kicked five field goals this fall with a long kick of just 25 yards.
Being able to control the ball has been a Cougar trademark as they have averaged 272 rushing yards per contest and 328.4 total yards. They also put up an average of 31.4 points per game.
Leading the Cougar offense is 5-foot-8, 165-pound junior running back Darryl Mapp with 1,590 yards and 28 touchdowns on 246 carries. Junior fullback Kendrick Windham (5-9, 180) has 739 yards and nine touchdowns on 115 carries. Derek Mapp adds 324 yards on 60 rushes.
Freshman quarterback Colby Amis has completed 19-of-33 passes for 404 yards and four touchdowns. He's run the ball 26 times for 146 yards.
Top Cougar receivers are Dusty Rose with nine catches for 192 yards, Adam Bout with seven receptions for 271 yards and five touchdowns, and Robby Carey with eight catches for 70 yards.
Heading up the Cougar defense are junior linebacker Terrance Patrick (5-10, 210) with 105 tackles and junior nose guard Josh Avant (5-11, 160) with 102. Richard Croft has 71 and Derek Mapp 70, while Bout, Dexter McCune, and Michael Johnson each have 69. Mark Walker has made 55 with Derek Cleveland next with 52.
Delvin Merrell and Trellis Skinner both have four interceptions, although Skinner suffered a dislocated elbow last week.
The Cougar defense is allowing an average of 127.9 rushing yards and 105.8 passing yards per outing. Opponents average only 10.2 points per game against Newton County.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com or call him at 693-1551, ext. 3235.