The undefeated Minden Crimson Tide have passed every test hurled their way in their centennial football season, but the tallest task of all still stands in their way.
Not many circled the Woodlawn game as the de facto district championship game at the season’s start. Many pegged Benton for that role, and those who didn’t likely figured North DeSoto to be the most pressing matter on the schedule.
That hasn’t bothered the Knights one bit, as they’ve proven all their doubters wrong in 2016, going 8-1 and keeping an unblemished district record in the process.
Woodlawn’s most impressive conquest to date was their 54-28 takedown of Benton in week 8. During a game that saw the Knights go down 14-0 early, only to storm back for a resounding victory, Woodlawn’s junior stud running back Trivensky Mosley ran for 177 yards and totaled 3 touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving). Joshua Mosley, a fiery athlete at the quarterback position, has been a blessing for head coach Jerwin Wilson’s team, and Huntington transfer Larry Moton gives the Knights a third explosive weapon. Woodlawn certainly won’t shy away from the spotlight and they have no fear of the Crimson Tide’s dominating defense.
“They are a very big football team up front,” Minden head coach Spencer Heard said. “They have a great running back, the quarterback can make plays with the run or pass. Defensively, the have a great scheme, either a 4-2-5 or a 3-3-5. They’re especially good in the back half, about what you would expect.”
For their part, the Tide have plenty of motivation to get the job done.
Minden is seeking their first outright district title in 10 years. The same amount of time has passed since the school’s last undefeated regular season (2006).
“It’s one of those goals everyone has,” Heard said of a district championship. “Then, on top of that, you want to win every game on your schedule. It would mean we’ve completed a couple of the goals we wanted to achieve, and I know it would mean a lot to these seniors and give us some momentum heading into the playoffs for sure.”
The Tide boast a senior-laden roster rich in experience, and they have grown comfortable on the turf at Independence Stadium, the site of Friday’s clash. Minden is a perfect 5-0 at Independence Stadium over the last 3 seasons, including a 40-0 win over Fair Park and a 34-18 victory against Huntington this season.
“I think we play so fast on that turf,” Heard said. “We certainly won’t be turning down any chances to play there. I feel like the guys like playing there, but certainly this week will be a bigger challenge. We’ll have to play up to our potential for four quarters.”
Minden’s offense has been revved up since that two-game stint at Independence, with last week’s 35-point outing being the lowest total for the Tide since a 26-0 shutout of North Webster in week 3.
Antonio Rivette is flashing the brilliance that put him the spotlight near the end of last season, and his cast of targets continue to make game-breaking plays.
Trivensky Mosley has breakaway speed, but Minden’s Patrick Heard may have more. Woodlawn has threats at receiver, but they aren’t as dynamic as what the Tide offer with Tavarius Edwards and Kelcey Miller. In the trenches is the one area where Woodlawn could argue an offensive advantage, but then again, the young offensive line of Minden has shown impressive gains in the second half of the season.
Offense is fun to discuss, but ultimately, this game falls on the shoulders of the Crimson Swarm defense.
“I think we have to keep them corralled at the line of scrimmage,” Heard said. “Hopefully we can apply some pressure to the quarterback. I think the main thing though is keeping them at bay; not letting them get to second level, because when they get there, they’re so elusive.”