Indians face big test in rematch before opening 1-4A slate

FULTON – The date was November 14, 2014. The IAHS Indian football squad was riding a six-game winning streak, but saw that streak snapped in round two of the class 4A playoffs.

The team responsible was the Kosciusko Whippets, runners-up in division 4-4A to eventual state champion Noxubee, and they handed the Indians an ugly 30-13 blemish to end their season.

Fast-forward 10 months, and we have a rematch – a date has most definitely been circled by IAHS players.

 

 

Just how things lined up

 

Oddly enough, this isn’t viewed as a “revenge” game by the Indians. It’s actually more about how things just happened to work out.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM Ha'kee Rainey shakes off a Kosciusko tackler for a big gain last Friday night.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM
Ha’kee Rainey shakes off a Kosciusko tackler during last November’s playoff game. It was the last time the Indians have tasted defeat.

“We had September 11 and September 25 as our open dates after a team cancelled on us on the 11th,” said IAHS head coach Clint Hoots. “A similar thing happened to Kosciusko and we were both available for the 25th. It was either a home game against them or a game against a team from Louisiana, so we decided on this one. It’s just kind of how things lined up.”

“No doubt, it’ll be a huge test,” added Hoots. “That’s part of the reason we went with them. They’re a really good football team in a really good division and this will be a good measuring stick for us.”

The Whippets return leading rusher Narkist Hutchins, who finished 2014 with 1,344 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.

Leading receiver Josh Dodds, who caught 26 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns a year ago, has been converted to quarterback and, while adding another element to a stout run game, it leaves the Whippets without a proven pass-catcher on the outside.

Defensively, Kosciusko lost eight of their 10 leading tacklers from last season and will have many new faces.

Tonight isn’t recognized as a revenge game by the coaching staff and players, but it has absolutely been etched in the back of their mind.

“We’re going to go tempo on them,” said Hoots. “We’re going to work fast and we’re going to be balanced. Hopefully, we can keep them on their heels all night.”

The Indian offense is led by quarterback Vijay Miller, who has completed 65 percent of his passes for 993 yards, including 10 touchdowns to zero interceptions, tailback Hunter White, who is on pace to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the third consecutive season with 446 yards and six touchdowns so far this season, and junior wideout Caleb Whittle, who reached the No. 1 play on ESPN and Fox Sports outlets this week with his heads-up catch and lateral to Russell Bunch for a crucial touchdown in last week’s emotional homecoming win over Aberdeen. See it here: YouTube Preview Image.

Whittle has caught 19 balls for 373 yards and three touchdowns in the young 2015 season.

The defense is led by senior linebacker Daniel Freppon, who is averaging a ridiculous 19.8 tackles per game this season.

 

A mature group

 

“These guys have handled everything, from their approach in practice to dealing with the 15 seconds of fame we got last week,” said Hoots. “It’s amazing to coach a group of high school kids who handle things as well, or better, than most college players. They lean on one another and stay focused on the big picture regardless of what’s going on around them, and it’s unbelievable.”

Kickoff for IAHS-Kosciusko is set for 7:00 tonight at Indian Stadium in Fulton and the game broadcast can be heard on 95.9 FM.

Also, follow me on Twitter @ScotNic24 for frequent in-game updates.

 

scotty.nichols@journalinc.com

 

 

 

 

About Scotty Nichols

Graduate of THE University of Mississippi. #HottyToddy. I like sports. And BBQ.

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