HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Early games have been 'buzzsaw' for some area teams

By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

Okolona High football coach Calvin Aldridge compared playing top-ranked Class 3A Aberdeen to running into a buzzsaw with your eyes wide open.
“It isn’t fun,” the Chieftains coach said last week before his team played at Aberdeen.
Okolona, a Class 1A team, was defeated by the Bulldogs for the second consecutive year, losing 61-6 on Friday night. Last year, Aberdeen shut out the Chieftains 43-0 in Okolona.
“They are a lot bigger school,” Aldridge said about Aberdeen. “It’s just one of those (games) we have to deal with.”
The game with Aberdeen was one of four non-division contests the Chieftains played to begin the 2010 season. Okolona (2-2) begins Division 1-1A play this Friday night at 7:30 at Falkner (1-3).
Several Northeast Mississippi teams scheduled most, if not all, their non-division games with bigger schools; in some cases because most schools of similar size or smaller refuse to play them in non-division matchups due to their past success.
Through the first five weeks of the season, Corinth and Ripley, both members of Division 1-3A, have played all Class 4A teams. The 3A schools won just one game apiece to start the season.
“We’re kind of taking it on the chin,” Ripley coach Grady McCluskey said this past Wednesday before playing Itawamba AHS. “We only have four seniors playing, and we’re starting some freshmen.
“We’re fighting through it. We’ll have played five 4A teams in a row.”
After defeating North Panola 13-12 in Week 1, Ripley’s next four opponents outscored the Tigers a combined 112-19. The Tigers were shut out in two of those four games.
“We got some kids hurt,” McCluskey said. “We don’t have a lot of depth.”
Ripley’s next opponent is Baldwyn (1-4), a Class 2A team that has played three Class 3A teams, one 4A school and one 5A club to begin the year.
“We’ll be a better football team for it,” McCluskey said about playing larger schools.
Corinth (1-3) and Ripley (1-4) begin their division slate against one another on Oct. 1 in Ripley.
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or john.wilbert@djournal.com.

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