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Cougars open playoffs at No. 1 seed Booneville

Normally on paper, a No.1 seed versus a No. 4 seed  usually is a one-sided affair.

But, the North Panola-Booneville matchup is  shaping up to be one of the top games in the state as the first round of the North 3A State playoffs get underway at 7 p.m tonight on the campus of Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville.

North Panola (7-3) enters the contest as the Region-2 No. 4 seed despite losing two district games by a combined three points.

The Cougars qualified for the post-season with a 51-6 rout of Holly Springs last week.

Carl Robinson accounted for three touchdowns while Devonta Pratcher added two rushing touchdowns in the victory.

Tonight will mark the third time Booneville and North Panola have met in the opening round of the playoffs with the Cougars winning the previous two games 26-21 in 2008 and 52-48 in 2013.

The Blue Devils enter tonight as Region 1 champion with a 5-1 district record and 8-2 overall with their only losses coming at the hands of New Albany (42-41) and Kossuth (44-43).

Booneville is averaging 37.5 points per game while surrendering 19 points per outing.

Junior signal-caller John Daniel Deaton leads a  balanced Blue Devil offense that is posting 161 yards rushing and 154 through the air.

Deaton has completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,544 yards and 15 touchdowns. His main receiving threat is sophomore L.J. Shumpert who leads the team with 35 receptions for 461 yards and four touchdowns.

Jackson McCoy (14-266) and Hunter Ellis (13-214) also are receiving targets. Senior running back Davian Price is the leading rusher with 1,122 yards and 19 touchdowns to go along with 21 catches for 439 yards and five touchdowns.

Senior inside linebacker William Jackson anchors the Blue Devil defense with 60 tackles while fellow linebacker Amoni Grizzard has 56 stops on the year.

Booneville’s defensive line includes sophomores J.D. Nanney (54 tackles, six QB sacks) and Mac Shinault (55 tackles).

Alex Gross, Eric Williams, Kennedy Lyons, Kennden Lyons and Xavier Glover spearhead the North Panola defense.