The Central Mississippi Owls are riding a 10-game winning streak into Saturday’s Mid-South Elite Football League Championship Game against the Alexandria Bayou Bengals, which come in on a 21-game winning streak themselves.
The Bengals shut out the Owls on opening weekend this season, 20-0, but both teams have been on a roll ever since. For the Owls to return the favor and come out with a championship trophy would mean so much to a hard-working group of men that know adversity all too well.
“What it would mean, with where we come from – our community – when the program started back in September, it was for the community to get the guys together,” Owls CEO and head coach Jevonte Walden told Developmental Football USA. “Right now, Holmes County is considered the poorest county in the state, which is the poorest state in America. It would mean so much for our community – a lot of people that have lost a lot in life – we try to give them the best. It would mean a lot to our fans, the community as well as the organization.”
Pulling that off against a Bayou Bengals team that has only allowed one touchdown in more than a year won’t be an easy task.
“Of course it’s going to take an all-around team effort on our end,” Walden said. “We were very undermanned when we went down there with about 22 players. We were lacking a lot of experience. The main thing, it’s going to have to be a collective team effort – make sure we’re all on one accord. We have some veterans that are keys to our success that came on late in the season.”
A lot of football has been played since the last times these two met, practically an entire season. Therefore, these won’t be the same two teams playing again, as both should be much more polished, finished products this go around.
“On offense, we are a lot more molded team,” Walden said. “We’ve come together and built an offense that can put up points with Daquan Brown, No. 15, and No. 8, our quarterback, Adrian Moore. He’s one of our veterans on the team, probably one of the oldest guys on our team and he’s leading our team at quarterback. He hadn’t played football in about 12 years.
“Brown is probably top five as far as speed, not just on our team, but in the entire league. The kid can fly. I put him in situations to make one-on-one plays and the kid is very fast. I put him in at kick returner too. When he gets vertical, it’s hard for a safety to plant and stay with him. We try to move him around a lot and just let him do what he do.”
Defensively, a former Jackson State player and former two-time MVP Sam Washington leads the defense, while Tyrun Lemon leads the league in interceptions with eight.
“It’s going to come down to execution on our end,” Walden said. “In that first game, we didn’t execute as well. We had 20-plus penalties, with probably 10 being holding penalties, but we led them in every stat category in that game.
“We have a good game plan. We’re fast, our team average age is 23 years old. We’ll play a well-balanced game, let our quarterback control it and let our defense do their thing. In the last seven games, we haven’t given up an offensive touchdown. If anyone scores on us, it’s probably special teams or something. Our defense hasn’t given up a touchdown in the last seven games.”
Both teams come into this game with two of the Top 20 longest-running winning streaks in the country – the Bengals (No. 5) and the Owls (No. 20)
“It’s been more than an honor to even just form this team as a 26-year old and to have the community get behind us,” Walden said.