CENTREVILLE, Miss. — Silliman Institute had something to prove to Centreville Academy’s Tigers, and to the fans at Friday’s football game, but mostly to themselves.
They wanted to prove they could accomplish a feat no Wildcat team has done since 2001 — win a district championship. And they wanted to do it against the defending state champs and defending district champs and their biggest rival on their home field.
The Wildcats relied on a swarming defense and a quick-strike offense to overwhelm the Tigers 41-0 and claim the outright Mississippi Association of Independent Schools’ District 5-3A title.
Coach T.J. Davis’ squad earned its third straight shutout and improved to 8-1 for the season and 4-0 in district. It will await playoff pairings to be released by the MAIS over the weekend. The playoffs will start next week.
“We should be one of the top four seeds,” Davis said. “It will depend on what else happens, and they’ll have to see how everyone else does, but we should be a three or a four seed. We’re happy with that. We will definitely host the first playoff game.”
He’s happy his defense is peaking at the right time.
“It’s the system put in by Coach Robert Andress, and our guys have gotten better and better executing it,” said Davis. “I hope they continue.”
Quarterback Zach Kelly passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more as the Wildcats rushed for 254 yards. Kelly passed for 171 more, completing 10 of 13 attempts.
Meanwhile, Centreville couldn’t get anything going with two interceptions and two lost fumbles in the first half. They ended the game with just 65 rushing yards and 17 passing yards.
Kelly passed for two touchdowns and ran for another to lead the Wildcats to a 27-0 halftime advantage. Kelly hit Devin Gros with a 48-yard scoring pass, and Cole Jackson’s kick put Silliman ahead 7-0. After a Centreville possession, the Wildcats padded their lead when Kelly ran the ball in from 14 yards. The kick missed, and the visitors were up 13-0.
In the second quarter, after Michael Beauchamp sacked quarterback Britt Netterville and the Wildcats recovered the fumble deep inside the Tigers’ red zone, Kelly hit Will Douglas with a 17-yard TD pass on the next play. His two-point run pushed Silliman’s advantage to 21-0. The Wildcats added another score when Beauchamp rambled for a 14-yard score and a 27-0 lead after the PAT kick missed.
Silliman added two more touchdowns in the third quarter with Kelly scoring on a 10-yard run and when he hit Douglas with a 9-yard TD pass.
“I think they came to play. They have good senior leadership,” said Centreville coach Bill Hurst, who guided his team to a 5-5 mark overall and 2-2 in the league.
He’s hoping his team did enough to earn a playoff spot.
“They came here with a purpose, and they made a statement early,” he said. “They were the best football team.”