By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Bruce players have heard all season that no one in Class 2A can beat them. Baldwyn was 1-3 a month into the season and fell off the 2A radar.
Both are now unbeaten in Division 1-2A and Friday one of the two will have a grasp on the division title.
The Trojans (6-2, 2-0) are the Journal’s No. 1 small school. Baldwyn (5-3, 2-0) moved back into the rankings at No. 5 this week.
Baldwyn’s grasp would be tighter if the Bearcats pull of an upset on the road. The Cats have already beaten likely playoff seeds Okolona and Calhoun City. Bruce still has to play each of them.
“I expect them to come here fired up ready to play their best game. They have a chance to win the region,” Bruce coach James Ray said.
In Bruce’s only two losses of the season – Water Valley and Houston – the Trojans had turnover issues. Ray said that has been a focus against the Bearcats.
Bruce quarterback Davis Brown has thrown 20 touchdowns and is completing 65 percent of his passes for 1,486 yards.
‘that first big punch’
“The big thing is surviving that first big punch they give us,” Baldwyn coach Michael Gray said. “If we can settle down and get in the game, I think it will be a really good football game.”
Sizeable receivers Shaq Bush and Rashad Turner have caught 10 touchdowns on 817 yards.
Baldwyn will have defensive back Laquintez Upshaw returning after missing the last two games with a knee injury.
“Laquintez will be back and that’s huge,” Gray said. “We’ve got to keep them in front of us and maybe make them turn the ball over.”
Upshaw has also rushed for 322 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Bradley Boose leads the team with 359 yards and four scores. Freshman Duke Upshaw has four rushing scores.
Baldwyn senior defensive end Reggie Richey continues to lead defensively with 9.3 tackles per game. He also has six sacks. Donta Armstrong has three of Bruce’s seven interceptions.
“They’ll be as fast a team as we’ve played and they’re big up front,” Ray said. “We’re trying to quell (the hype). I told the kids, ‘If we are who everyone thinks we are, we’ll show up and play.’”