By his estimation Silliman Institute coach T.J. Davis said 2001 represents the last time the Wildcats won a district championship — a season when they went undefeated.
Davis also said it’s either been six to eight years since Silliman last defeated Mississippi Association of Independent School kingpin Centreville, Mississippi.
“It’s motivation, but there’s also a little bit of nerves,” Davis said. “They want to be those guys that break the mold. It’s tough for that guy that’s been down to swing that knockout punch and take down the champ. You’re going to have to overcome a lot.”
Silliman (7-1, 3-0) finds itself with an opportunity to accomplish both when the Wildcats take their six-game win streak to Centreville (5-4, 2-1) at 7 p.m. Friday when the District 5-3A championship will be on the line.
“Our guys are always the underdogs,” Davis said. “That’s the mindset we’re going into the game with. We don’t have anything to lose. These guys are always district champions and in the playoffs.”
The local/area will also have some LHSAA games of interest with Class 3A’s top-ranked University High (6-1, 4-0) visiting Glen Oaks (1-6, 0-4) and Donaldsonville (2-5, 2-2) traveling to No. 6 Parkview Baptist (4-3, 3-1) in District 6-3A action, while White Castle (4-3, 2-1) hosts No. 4 Kentwood (6-1, 2-0) in 6-1A play.
Centreville, led by the state’s career leader in victories Bill Hurst, is not only the reigning district champion but won its ninth state title under Hurst last season.
Davis said because of a rash of early-season injuries Centreville’s record may not reflect its past dominance but the Tigers are expected to be close to 100 percent for their regular-season finale with Silliman.
The Wildcats last lost (28-10) to Class 4A Oak Forest Academy in the second week. They’ve been on a roll since.
Quarterback Zach Kelly has accounted for nearly 2,000 yards and a combined 20 touchdowns. He’s completed 64 of 94 passes for with 1,119 yards.
Michael Beauchamp is the second leading rusher behind Kelly (77-684) with 55 carries for 420 yards and six TDs followed by Reed Rushing (40-316, 2 TDs). The top receivers are Dillon LeBlanc (9-177, three TDs) and Will Douglas (9-124, TD).
A big part of Silliman’s win streak has been the result of an improving defense that’s registered consecutive shutouts.
Linebackers Mark Gill and Douglas are the team’s leading tacklers, with Beauchamp topping the team in sacks and Devin Gros in interceptions.
“We’ve gotten to the point in the season where our kids have bought into our system and executing the game plan,” Davis said.
That unit is expected to get a heavy dose of power football from Centreville, which also has the flexibility of getting the ball to running back Tyler Caston in spread sets as well.
“We’re going to have to play four quarters,” Davis said. “There’s no quit in these guys. That’s what makes it so fun to play them. It’s a knock down drag out, dogfight.”