Sumrall's rushing attack heads to Richton Friday nightBy CAMAL PETRO,
RICHTON – Just like last season, the Bobcats have posted a 3-1 record through their first four games, and with two games of non-district opponents left to be played, they’ll try to finish it off strong before traveling to Purvis on Friday, Sept. 29.
Sumrall finished with a 4-2 non-district record in 2016, and coach Shannon White believes this team is different no matter what the final two outcomes will be before Region 7-4A play starts.
“The difference is we’re a year older,” White said. “I like our defensive scheme, and I think we’re better on defense to this point.”
Offensively, the Bobcats’ rushing attack has been much improved from last season, outgaining themselves by 77 yards a game from 2016 to this season. They’re averaging 228 yards per game this season, compared to 151 yards a game last season. All of that came with a lousy 155-yard showing in Week 1, too. Through just four games, Sumrall has rushed for more than half the yards (913 yards) than it did the season prior (1,662).
“It’s been really good, and we’re proud of our offensive line for that,” White said. “We have some good running backs and it’s a fairly simple scheme, but our offensive line is better than it was last year. Most of those guys played last year, I don’t think we have but one new face up there, and we’re using a tight end set, which it’s been forever since I’ve used a tight end.”
Of course, the Sumrall passing attack was much more explosive in 2016, but White doesn’t like to be labeled as a “passing guy”.
“I’ve thrown a lot of passes over the years, and I’m kind of labeled as a passing guy, but I’ve never had a good, quality team without a good running game.” White said. “I believe in the running game. I love balance.”
Richton (1-3) is coming off a 52-28 loss to 1A East Marion and its lone win of the season came the week prior at home against Enterprise 49-12 – a team Sumrall beat 42-25 last week. Another common opponent for the two teams was Sacred Heart, which Sumrall beat 27-12, but the Rebels lost to the Crusaders in a shootout, 42-36. Richton also lost to Columbia 41-8 in the season opener.
The Rebels run the ball 70 percent of their plays, which have resulted in 813 yards – 203 yards per game – and 12 touchdowns on 137 carries. Senior Daylen Jones lead the way with 420 yards and seven scores on 57 carries, and junior Za’darius Mitchell has added 48 rushing attempts, 262 yards and three scores.
Mitchell, who’s the Rebels’ quarterback, has passed for 333 yards – 83 yards per game – on 25-of-45 passing with three touchdowns and three interceptions. His mobility worries White.
“I’ve seen (Mitchell) on film, even though he was flagged for it, literally hurdle guys and stay on his feet,” White said. “He’s just a great athlete. He’s a dual threat guy, and he just makes something out of nothing. Just about every time we see an athletic quarterback, we struggle.”
Defensively, however, Richton has allowed opponents to score nearly 37 points per game, with its best performance coming against Enterprise two weeks ago. When these teams met last season, receiver Dannis Jackson had one of his best games of his sophomore campaign with 154 yards and three touchdowns on just four receptions.
“They’re a high-pressure defense,” White said. “They put seven (in the box) at times and play man-to-man. I think (Mitchell) is going to cover Dannis, and that’s what they did last year. Dannis had a good game last year, but it’s tough. (Mitchell) is a good corner, so I think we have a huge challenge there.”