Tallulah Academy opens MAIS Class 1A playoffs against winless Tensas

Published 9:28 am Thursday, October 26, 2023

The easiest way to get to the second round of the MAIS football playoffs is to win your district and earn a first-round bye.

The second-easiest way, and the one Tallulah Academy appears set to use, is to draw a massive mismatch.

The Trojans (8-3) earned the No. 5 seed in the MAIS Class 1A playoff bracket and will play No. 12 Tensas Academy Friday at 7 p.m. in Tallulah.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Tensas finished the regular season 0-11, but qualified for the playoffs because of the MAIS power points system. The Chiefs played a difficult schedule that generated a high enough average to push them past three other teams.

“Tensas had some bad luck and lost some key players. They’ve lost four starters since we played. They’re down to playing a whole bunch of junior high kids on the varsity. It’s unfortunate for them,” Tallulah coach Bart Wood said. “It’s a big rivalry. It’s just a little different this year.”

Tensas allowed at least 39 points in every game this season, and only scored more than 20 three times. Its first loss was a 66-20 defeat at the hands of Tallulah on Aug. 11.

Approaching a game like this, Wood said, was a unique challenge. He doesn’t want to embarrass the Chiefs, but he also needs to make sure his players take them seriously enough to accomplish his other goals of avoiding injuries and resting starters.

“I’m not going to run the score up. I don’t think I’ve ever done that to anybody, and I don’t want to do it here. I want to get out to a good start and get a lead, get the starters off the field, and make sure we win the game,” Wood said.

Assuming Tallulah takes care of business this Friday, Wood said he likes the postseason path his team has in front of it.

The three teams that beat the Trojans — Sharkey-Issaquena Academy, Briarfield and Riverdale ­— are all on the opposite side of the Class 1A bracket. The winner of the Tallulah-Tensas game will play Lee (Arkansas), with No. 1 seed Calhoun Academy waiting in the semifinals if the seedings hold.

After seeing how they fared against the other half of the bracket, Wood was happy to see them all lumped together and to let them knock each other out. In the regular season, SIA beat Tallulah 52-20, Briarfield won 72-32, and Riverdale won 20-12.

“I like the way we match up. We match up better with Lee and Calhoun than we do Briarfield, Riverdale or Sharkey. Those teams might have a different view, but that’s how I think,” Wood said. “We have an opportunity. It’s going to be a tough opportunity, but it’s going to be an opportunity to make it to the state championship game.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
Warren Central at Callaway (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Vicksburg at Columbus (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Tensas Academy at Tallulah Academy
Port Gibson at South Pike
Madison Parish at Vidalia

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

email author More by Ernest