Division 3 Midwest Region

Mississippi Panthers at Mississippi Royalty

-Michael Burmeister

In the 2019 Women’s Football Alliance Division 3 Midwest Region Championship, we see the strongest proof of what a hotbed Mississippi has become for women’s football, as the #2 seed, Jackson’s Mississippi Lady Panthers (3-3, 3-3 D3) make the 90-mile drive south on US-49 to renew the “Magnolia Melee” a third time this season against the #1 seed, the only unbeaten team remaining in D3, Hattiesburg’s Mississippi Royalty (8-0, 8-0 D3)!

All-time series: Royalty lead 2-0

Points: Royalty 52, Panthers 46

Meeting of the year: Third

Last meeting: The Royalty edged the Panthers 22-20 on May 11 in Hattiesburg, picking up the regular-season sweep.

Thoughts on the Panthers: When it was announced that Jackson was getting a WFA team in 2019 in the form of the Lady Panthers, not a lot was known about them, other than the fact that several of the players had a season of prior experience with the team down south. As such, not a lot was expected from the Panthers in their inaugural season…but we all learned in no time that the blueberry doesn’t fall far from the bush, as the Panthers proved EVERY bit as dominant in victory as the Royalty did last year, with even their three losses being SUPER-competitive classics against fellow championship contenders. In addition to seeing them field nine All-Americans (including two First Team members), this fantastic season was more than enough to secure a playoff berth for the Panthers, and with LeSteven Jackson leading the group, the Panthers are on the prowl, ready to shock the world as they set their sights on the big game in Denver this July…if they can make the third time the charm and hand the Royalty their only loss of the season here, EVERY head will turn their way all throughout the road to CO.

Thoughts on the Royalty: It feels like just last month that I first heard Nikiko Johnson’s lead and called TI Brown Xvi about the WFA and why that was the league for her to field her tackle team in Hattiesburg comprised of alumnae from her Mississippi Women’s Combine. Fast forward to today, and, with Anthony Dunn leading the charge, the Royalty are now the Mid-South’s women’s football JUGGERNAUTS, outscoring their opponents 249-79 en route to becoming D3’s only still-unbeaten team, placing ten All-Americans (including two First Team members), and securing home-field in this Midwest Region Championship. The Royalty are advertising this game as “All Roads Lead to Nevada” (seeing as how the winner will play a Nevada team in the American Conference Championship on June 29), and if they can complete the three-game sweep over their rivals up north, the Royalty will already be strikin’ it rich and set themselves up as a team that can win the biggest prize in Colorado this July.

The questions are: Will the Panthers #DemandRespect by pulling off the biggest win in team history and putting themselves within two games of the ultra-rare “natty-in-one” achievement? Or will the Royalty take things to the#NextLevel as they stand triumphant again, preparing themselves for a date with destiny in a “Magnolia vs. Silver” American Conference Championship on June 29?