Silliman playing for MAIS championship _lowres

Advocate staff photo by CHARLES CHAMPAGNE — Silliman coach T.J. Davis speaks to his players during a July practice.

Coach T.J. Davis understands the historical importance of Thursday’s championship game for Silliman Institute’s football team.

But Davis is more concerned with keeping his team focused on stopping the Colonels than with the game’s significance.

Silliman is one of three teams with area ties that are playing for Mississippi Association of Independent Schools championships at Millsaps College over the next two days in Jackson Miss.

Top-seeded Wilkinson County Christian Academy plays at 1 p.m. Thursday against seventh-seeded Tri-County Academy for the A-AA title. Fourth-seeded Silliman faces undefeated and second-seeded Indianola Academy at 6 p.m. for the AAA championship. On Friday, Oak Forest Academy of Amite, the top seed in Class AAAA, Division II, will square off against No. 2 Washington at noon.

Davis’ Wildcats have not played for an MAIS championship since 2001, the last time they won a football state championship. They also advanced to the championship game in 1974 and 1996. They’ll be matched up against an Indianola team that has had similar results to them this season.

The Colonels are headed to the championship game riding a 13-0 record after dismantling Simpson Academy 36-7 in a semifinal last week. The Colonels have allowed a touchdown or less in their past six games, and they are seeking their first championship since 1976.

“They’re stout up front, and they’re a big and physical group of guys who have played well all year,” Davis said. “They’re a little bigger than we are, but we’re going to go up there and do our best.”

Silliman enters the game 11-1 and riding a 10-game win streak. Davis’ team has had a dominating defense, with shutouts in four of their past seven games including a 27-0 semifinal win over Leake Academy.

“We’ve got a few bumps and bruises, but I like where we are right now,” Davis said. “We’re going to go up there and play a solid game of football and let the cards fall where they fall.”

WCCA has completed a remarkable turnaround from last year under first-year coach Christopher McGraw. The Rams have gone from 2-9 in 2014 to 11-2 this year and are riding a nine-game win streak. They edged Benton Academy 21-20 last week.

“We’ve been playing with a lot of guts,” said McGraw. “We’ve been down, but we’ve never quit playing until the final whistle. It’s been a wonderful thing.”

Tri-County is also 11-2 and the Rebels are on a four-game win streak including playoff victories over second-seeded Prairie View (33-12) and third-seeded Canton Academy (27-24).

Oak Forest is 10-2 this year and after a first round bye, defeated No. 5 East Rankin Academy last week, 34-7 to advance to the championship game. The Yellow Jackets are 7-0 in road games and neutral site games this season. The Washington Generals are 9-2 including last week’s 44-22 semifinal triumph over No. 3 Lamar.