JACKSON — Walter Denton hopes to experience a championship feeling this weekend.
Last season, the Tylertown High School football coach left Mississippi Memorial Stadium wondering what could have been.
Tylertown and Louisville played to a virtual statistical dead heat on paper in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A state title game.
But Chris Wraggs” 11-yard pass to Jordan Christion in the fourth quarter erased a one-point deficit and helped give Louisville a 26-21 victory.
This season, 19 seniors will lead the way for Tylertown (14-0) as it hopes to beat Aberdeen (13-2) when they face off at 11 a.m. Saturday for the Class 3A state title.
Aberdeen, coached by Chris Duncan, will play for its first state title in football in school history, while Denton hopes Tylertown is better prepared in its second trip to Jackson.
“It was our first time last year and it was all new to us,” Denton said. “The rust and all of the hassles you have to go through and the deadlines you have were new to us. It is more relaxed this time and our kids understand they had an opportunity last year to play with the best and came close. It is going to be a battle this time.”
Denton was 6-5 as football coach at Caledonia High in 1978. From there, he went to Delta State, Yazoo City, Oxford, Greenville, and wound up at Tylertown 19 years ago. The 31-year coaching veteran said the loss to Louisville was a good building block. He said the trip to the state title game came a year early, and now he hopes the Chiefs will be able to deliver on their potential.
“We were expecting to be here this year,” Denton said. “Our kids are very disciplined and work very hard at what they do. They understand what our system is.”
Denton credits senior leadership for keeping the Chiefs focused and a “preseason” schedule that included victories against Class 5A McComb and Class 6A Ocean Springs and Vicksburg helped set the tone for what has been an outstanding season.
Senior quarterback/defensive back Jameon Lewis leads the Chiefs. He has throw for 1,004 yards and 10 touchdowns and has rushed for 1,080 yards and 16 touchdowns.
As a team, Tylertown has four runners with at least 463 yards. The Chiefs have rushed for 3,429 yards and 48 touchdowns this season.
“We run a multiple-type offense that has a lot of speed,” Denton said. “We have five guys who can run around a 4.4 (40-yard dash). We run the football and we can throw the football.”
Denton said the Chiefs will play a multiple defense. The more he thought about it he said his team reminds him of Aberdeen in the sense that both teams have a lot of speed and athleticism.
That”s where the teams diverge, though. He said the Chiefs rely more on a physical brand of football, while the Bulldogs will work more out of a zone-type offense.
Didriquez Smith is second with 11 rushing touchdowns, while T.O. Robertson had 830 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
Jawon Jackson leads the Chiefs with 16 catches and four touchdowns.
Junior linebacker Dameuntez Magee leads Tylertown with 72 solo tackles and 109 overall.
“We have a couple of defensive tackles who are close to 300 pounds who can play,” Denton said. “We have defensive ends who can run, we have linebackers who run and hit you. It is going to be a speed game Saturday morning starting at 11 o”clock.”
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.