Prairie View (10-1) at Tallulah (11-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Prairie View has the rematch it has been wanting. Winners of eight straight, the Spartans travel to Tallulah Academy on Friday at 7 p.m. in the MAIS 8-man semifinals.
Tallulah won the regular season meeting between the Division 3 rivals 54-46 in Bastrop, handing the Spartans their only loss. At 11-0, the Trojans are the No. 1 seed in the bracket while the Spartans (10-1) are seeded fifth.
Just like last season, the Spartans are getting a second chance at a district rival. River Oaks downed Prairie View 28-18 to claim the district championship in the 2017 season finale. A week later, the Spartans knocked off the Mustangs 28-20 on their way to reaching the Class 2A 11-man semifinals.
Prairie View led Tallulah 8-6 at halftime in the initial Week 3 encounter before the offenses took over in the second half.
In last week's quarterfinal round, Tallulah breezed to a 58-8 first round victory over No. 8 seed Sharkey-Issaquena (Miss.) while the Spartans escaped Tensas Academy with a 66-58 overtime victory.
Austin Carroll's 9-yard run on the second play of overtime proved to be the difference. Gage Riles' fumble recovery on Tensas' second offensive snap clinched the victory.
While the Spartans are new to the 8-man game, the Trojans have emerged as one of the circuit's most successful programs. Prairie View coach Bo Barton guided Tallulah to the 2015 state title and the Trojans repeated in 2016 under current Tensas coach Joe Coats.
Friday night's game features two of the classification's premier players in Prairie View linebacker/running back Austin Carroll and Tallulah quarterback Josh Collins.
Carroll has a team-high 101 tackles with 13 tackles for loss, two sacks, three interceptions and four forced fumbles. Offensively, he is the team's second-leading rusher (67 carries, 578 yards, 13 touchdowns) and second-leading receiver (19 receptions, 300 yards, 2 TDs).
Prairie View quarterback Luke Denman has connected on 78-of-117 passes (66.7 percent) for 1,405 yards with 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Denman, who started the first three games at running back, is also the Spartans' leading rusher with 97 carries for 620 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Jaheem Brown (48 carries, 393 yards, 1 TD; 14 receptions, 272 yards, 5 TDs) complements Carroll in the backfield.
Layton Woodard (40-883-11) is the Spartans' primary receiver.
Jacob Farrar, who started at quarterback and linebacker for the Spartans in Week 3, missed the second half of the Aug. 31 game with an injury. Farrar has since played primarily on defense, logging 48 tackles, five stops for negative yardage and a sack.
Among the Spartans' remaining key defenders are linebacker Gage Riles (50 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks) and end Tyler Peters (42 tackles, 11 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 FF).
Collins is unquestionably the centerpiece of the Trojans' offense. Averaging an astounding 19.3 yards per carry, the senior quarterback has rushed for 2,199 yards and 46 touchdowns. Tallulah passes sparingly as Collins is 22-of-36 for 554 yards, 8 TDs and 2 INTs.
After being bottled up for the most part in the first half, Collins finished the first game vs. Prairie View with 297 yards and six touchdowns.
Running back Garrett Paris (65 carries, 539 yards, 12 TDs) and wide receiver Graham Tweedle (11 receptions, 336 yards, 6 TDs) are the Trojans' other offensive threats.
Defensively, the Trojans are led by linebacker Carter Sullivan (90 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 INTs), ends Parker Morgan (49 tackles, 12 TFL, 3 sacks) and David Peterson (33 tackles, 14 TFL, 3 sacks) and Tweedle (49 tackles, 4 TFL, 4 INTs), who doubles in the secondary.
A pair of Mississippi Division 2 rivals collide in the other semifinal as No. 6 Humphrey's treks to No. 2 Manchester.
The state championship game will be played Saturday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. at Jackson (Miss.) Academy.