David Wheeler on High School Sports

Now we are into some serious football, huh?
Congratulations to all the teams that have made it to the quarterfinals of their respective classifications, and good luck Friday with your matchups.
Gee, you think Class 4A might have the most interesting matchup for Northeast Mississippi?
Yes, I am talking about undefeated Noxubee County at undefeated Itawamba AHS. Once everyone began looking at the brackets for the playoffs, like myself, most were pointed to this week, this Friday, this matchup, as the ONE to watch.
Hope the game lives up to the hype.
Itawamba has certainly moved smartly through its schedule, with the two-headed running game that features Ashton Shumpert, but certainly not to overlook Charles Moore.
But can IAHS pass if they get behind in this contest?
For the IAHS offense, it might be a minor key that Shumpert has two years of experience against 6A defenses. Time to plug in his memory banks.
Noxubee County has been a state-wide pick most of the season to win 4A. Certainly their defense has been holding down opponents, but I would point to a regular season and their most recent playoff game – a 6-0 win over West Point and a 14-0 win over Lafayette.
Perhaps the key to playing Noxubee is not your offense, but your defense, in holding down a normally high-scoring offense.
And just a shoutout to Lafayette – I love it when a champion, perhaps overmatched, plays like a champion.
And in case you have not noticed it in North 4A, Division 4 makes up three of the four teams.
Houston is on a roll, but faces a Louisville team they lost to in the regular season. And remember, the winner will have as good a scouting information as possible if Noxubee does what most think in next week’s matchup.
Moving to 3A, how about Byhalia?
I remember late in the 90s doing a story about them being the last 3A school in the state to play football, and now they are making such a nice run through the playoffs.
I suspect the coaching staff, for the most part, knows what is what, but I truly believe the players are totally clueless what a big deal this might be for them.
Nobody pinch them and wake them up, there is little of such pure joy and fun these days.
Then again, the pinch might come Friday against East Side?
The there is Aberdeen and Charleston. Aberdeen is averaging 50 points per playoff game, Charleston 52.5. Woe to the reporter on deadline for this game if that trend continues, or perhaps this is a defensive struggle?
Alas, Aberdeen’s run might stop here – graduation losses might have finally caught up with them.
In 5A, Starkville versus Oxford should be an interesting matchup indeed.
And no one should overlook West Point as it takes on Ridgeland. West Point is a touchdown and a field goal away from being undefeated.
Could be many in 2A are looking ahead to next week and the possibility of a Calhoun City-Bruce rematch?
For Bruce-West Bolivar, I look at West Bolivar’s first round game against Okolona, a 49-36 contest. If Okolona can hang, Bruce might have the edge.
For Calhoun City-Eupora, Eupora has outscored opponents 85-8 in two games of the playoffs. Watch out CC.
Just glancing at 1A, Northeast Mississippi does not have a school left in the bracket.
I was suspicious all season about the strength of our 1A schools, except for Vardaman. Perhaps in the Rams case, not being healthy in this class is no help.
And finally, there is 6A. Again, no team from the area.
But there is Madison Central-Olive Branch on Friday. Bobby Hall versus the defending 6A champ.
Looking at some of Olive Branch’s scores over the season, several close ones.
Also in the North, there is South Panola-Clinton. Is it just me, or since last year, not many people are talking about South Panola.
Perhaps we will be reminded.

David Wheeler has been contributing to the high school sports coverage of the Daily Journal since 1985.

Posted in Sports

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