Xavier Evans

Laurel quarterback Xavier Evans outruns a defender Friday night. (Photo by Brad Crowe)

The 2019 high school football season is officially under way, with the first weekend of competition in the books. 

As is expected at the beginning of the season, each team had its fair share of miscues and mistakes that will be cleaned up with practice and repetition over the next several weeks. 

Despite all of that, several local players still stepped up and delivered huge performances to help lead their teams to victory. To highlight them all would probably take a entire sports section of its own. 

Since we are unable to do that, we have elected to feature three players from the Leader-Call coverage area each Tuesday as our top performers of the week. 

Below are the three players whose performances earned them the honor in Week 1.

Taylorsville QB Ty Keyes

All eyes were on Keyes Thursday night when he made his return to the gridiron after suffering a broken ankle last November in the 2A South State title game. Not only did he prove that he is back to full health, but his performance indicated that he just might be even better now than he was the last time we saw him. The four-star 2021 recruit completed 19 of 30 pass attempts for 322 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Tartars to a 32-12 victory over the Scott Central Rebels. "He made a lot of great throws that we're used to seeing him make," said Taylorsville head coach Mitch Evans. "He wasn't perfect, but he's still growing and learning. Heck, he's only 16."

Laurel QB Xavier Evans

For most of Friday night, Laurel and Poplarville were locked into a defensive battle. When it was needed most, however, junior quarterback Xavier Evans made big-time plays to earn crucial points. Evans completed 10 of 20 pass attempts for 128 yards and a touchdown, and he also rushed for 117 yards on 17 carries with another score on the ground. Evans led two scoring drives in the final three minutes of regulation to help the Tornadoes secure a 21-14 win over the Hornets. Laurel head coach Todd Breland said Evans' willingness to keep fighting, even when the offense wasn't clicking, was impressive. "He was off from time to time, but he stayed with it and stuck to the plan," said Breland. "Through those mistakes, he still helped us find a way to get the win, and that takes a lot of resillience."

Bay Springs RB Chase Wilson

Wilson burst onto the scene in the first game of his junior season, totaling more yards in Thursday night's game against Stringer than he had in all of 2018. Wilson rushed for 138 yards and two scores on just seven carries, averaging 19.7 yards per touch in Bay Springs' 40-0 win over Stringer. Though it was his first breakout performance, Bulldogs' head coach Dan Brady said it's been a long time coming. “Chase has worked really hard the last two years to get ready for his time," said Brady. "Thursday night, he made the most of it and proved he has the potential to be a valuable running back for us, both in running the ball and also blocking. I'm very proud of him. His work ethic and determination have helped him prepare for a breakout season.”

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