Wildcats win, set to play for region title


By Steve Swogetinsky

The Kemper Messenger

The Kemper County Wildcats exploded for 30 points in the third quarter as they rallied to defeat Southeast Lauderdale 44-9 Friday night in prep football action.

The Wildcats improved to 6-2 and will be playing for the Region 5-3A championship this Friday when they visit Forest.

It was an emotional night. All were grieving the loss of Southeast Lauderdale coach Calvin Hampton, who died in a tragic wreck earlier in the week. It was also senior night at Kemper County.

Southeast Lauderdale led 3-0 after the first quarter. The Wildcats got on the scoreboard in the second quarter when quarterback Aaron Steele connected with Dicenzo Miller Jr. on a 10-yard TD pass play. Ishmael Naylor scored the two-point conversion to give the Wildcats an 8-3 lead.

The Tigers scored later in the quarter and had a 9-8 lead at the half.

When the Wildcats went into the locker room trailing 9-8 at the half. Coach Ray Westerfield strongly encouraged his players to focus their efforts on winning the football game.

“There was a lot going on,” Coach Westerfield said. “I told them we needed to focus on what we need to do and I think they got the message.”

Whatever he said, the Wildcats responded.

First, Deon Windham scored on a 40-yard run to give the Wildcats the lead. Aidian Burrage scored the two point conversion on a pass from Steele and the Wildcats led 16-9. Miller then scored on a 40-yard run. The try for two failed and the Wildcats led 22-9.

Steele ran 65 yards for a touchdown and then scored the two-point conversion to give his team a 30-9 lead. Finally, Miller scored again on a 20-yard run and then added the two point conversion to put his team up 38-9 at the break.

In the fourth quarter, Steele scored on a five-yard run to end the scoring.

The Wildcats finished with 402 yards rushing and completed 6-of-12 passes for 102 yards.

Miller finished with 179 yards on 15 carries while Steele rushed for 133 yards on 16 carries. Steele had all of the passing yards and finished the night with 233 total yards. Windham had 62 yards on four carries.

Naylor led the defense with nine tackles and an interception. Taylor Robertson has six tackles.

“If we win Friday night, we will be district champs,” Coach Westerfield said. “We lost to Clarkdale and that’s their only district win. Forest is a passing team and they have good athletes. We have to find a way to stop them.”

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