Mr. Football will be on the sidelines this afternoon (Saturday) and a freshman will be under center when the Taylorsville Tartars aim for their second straight Class 2A state football championship at M.M. Roberts Stadium at Southern Miss.
The Tartars (15-0) will kick off against Scott Central (14-1) at 2 p.m., but Ty Keyes, the QB who led the Tartars to last season’s state title, will not play after suffering an ankle injury in last Friday’s South State championship game against rival Bay Springs.
Freshman Karson Evans, the son of Taylorsville coach Mitch Evans, will get the nod. He threw a touchdown pass and led the Tartars on a game-winning drive to slip by Bay Springs 15-8 to earn the title berth.
“We are honored to be here and have a chance to play the game,” coach Mitch Evans said. “We are excited to play a really well-coached team in Scott Central and are just excited to be playing.”
Evans has completed 13 of 22 passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns this season playing behind sophomore Keyes, who was honored as this years Class 2A Mr. Football. Keyes torched opponents for 3,736 yards and 39 touchdowns this season, but was hurt on a QB scramble in the second quarter Friday night.
Keyes’ absence might put the onus on the running game, where the Tartars feature senior Keyon Bass, who has rushed for 1,178 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Sophomore Jeffery Pittman has rushed for 431 yards and scored eight touchdowns.
While the offense will have a new leader under center, Mitch Evans has said that it has been the play of his defense in the second half of the season that helped the team remain unbeaten.
Since Sept. 7, Taylorsville has allowed just a touchdown per game and one of their non-conference wins came against a Seminary team that played for the Class 3A crown Friday morning.
Scott Central, meanwhile, has been nearly unstoppable this season, having lost its lone game to Pelahatchie, a team that finished the season 11-2. In four playoff games, the Rebels have outscored its opponents by an average of 35-5, including shutouts of South Delta and Calhoun City in the North State championship game.
Quarterback Treyon Wash is a dual threat who has thrown for 990 yards and nine touchdowns and also is second on the team with 817 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Four Rebels have at least 10 rushing touchdowns, led by Hydee Barlow’s 12 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Rebels’ statistics are off the charts. The team has recorded 176 tackles for loss, led by Navonteque Strong’s 48 TFLs and Barlow’s 38 TFLs. Strong also has 12 sacks and Barlow has seven sacks.
Taylorsville will be looking for its seventh state championship in school history, while Scott Central aims for its second.