Amite High football coach Zephaniah Powell did not need much of a scouting report for his semifinal matchup at Ferriday Friday night.
Amite defeated Ferriday 44-20 last year in Amite in the Class 2A semifinals on its way to a Class 2A state championship.
“We have a little history, going back to playing in the playoffs in 1991,” Powell said. And we have familiarity in that they played St. Helena, who is right down the road, the last two years. Coach (Stanley) Smith has had them in the semifinals all three years he has been there. He has done a phenomenal job.”
After falling to Kentwood 35-12 in its regular season finale, Amite beat Winnfield 38-9 before shutting out Welsh 26-0 and Loureville 26-0.
“When playoff time comes along, defense is the key,” Powell said. “And you have to have a strong running game.”
Amite lost several key players from last year’s team, including top lineman Ishmael Sopsher, who signed with Alabama. Last year’s quarterback, Amani Gilmore, signed with Kentucky.
“We have been a traditional power and the kids and community know what is expected,” Powell said. “I can see people from the outside having a perspective that we would not be as good, but our cupboard wasn’t empty. We have been blessed to be where we are.”
Sopsher said the loss to Kentwood, which moved up from 1A to 2A this year, was motivation for the team.
“They have always been our rival,” Sopsher said. “It put everything back into perspective for us. We took the lessons learned and used them to our advantage.”
Powell said Ferriday’s No. 1 ranking is well deserved.
“Their quarterback (Kobe Dillon) is fantastic and is a true dual threat,” Powell said. “And he is a true leader. Ferriday is very big and physical. They run the ball well. They will lull you to sleep and then Kobe with throw it over you to their dynamic receivers. They are even scarier on defense. No. 5 (Kobe Johnson) and No. 21 (Tevyn Byrd) are good. No. 21 can really play. I am very really impressed with their linebacker play. And their defensive line is stout. It’s going to be challenge for us.”
Amite came into the playoffs ranked No. 5.
The Warriors are led by returning senior running back Corey McKnight and junior quarterback John Walker.
“They are big and athletic,” said Ferriday High head coach Stanley Smith. “It’s a program we have never defeated. Their quarterback throws the ball well and the running back runs well. They sent us home last year, so we don’t need any more motivation. We have been undefeated at home the last two years, so we’re excited about playing here.”