All kickoffs at 7:30 p.m.
Tupelo (1-0) at Itawamba AHS (1-1)
– This week: Tupelo opened its season with a 33-23 win against 5A contender New Hope. IAHS rebounded from a first-week loss to Hernando to defeat Amory, 38-14.
– Recent history: IAHS defeated Tupelo 35-13 last season at THS.
– Tupelo: QB Luke Hobson completed 7 of 9 passes for 225 yards and 2 TD in opener. … RB/DB Ashton Shumpert scored 3 TD, one on a 67-yard pass interception return. He rushed for 49 yards and scored twice. He also caught 3 passes for 27 yards. … WR/DB Terrell Pinson caught 3 passes for 137 yards, including an 80-yard TD. He also had an interception. … DE P.J. Jones recorded 8 tackles, including 1 for a loss. “I thought we played pretty well defensively,” Jones said. “We went at it hard in the first half (against New Hope), then relaxed too much at halftime. I thought we finished strong.” … LB Ladarius Watkins had 10 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.
– IAHS: QB Maikhail Miller, an Ole Miss commitment, has completed 33 of 56 passes for 438 yards for 5 TD. “We’ve got to put pressure on him somehow,” THS coach David Bradberry said. “He’s a big, strong player who can throw from any position. He can throw short and deep. He can throw off-balance. He does a good job spreading the ball around.” … WR Austin Shumpert leads the team with 7 receptions for 194 yards and 3 TD. … WRs Devonta Jackson and Jimmy Ruff caught TD passes in last week’s win at Amory. … First-year coach Ashley Kuhn replaced Jamie Mitchell, who took the Starkville job.
Baldwyn (1-1) at Saltillo (1-1)
– This week: The host Tigers bounced back from a season-opening loss to Mooreville to beat Caledonia 10-0. The Bearcats lost 37-27 last week to Prentiss County rival Booneville.
n Recent history: Saltillo defeated Baldwyn, 9-0, last season.
– Baldwyn: RB Lorenzo Hill rushed for 102 yards in last week’s loss. He has 242 yards rushing in two games. … RB/LB Tyler Estes scored two TD against Booneville. Defensively, he’s averaging a team-high 10.5 tackles per game. … DL Parrish Huddleston, a transfer from IAHS, is averaging 9 tackles per game. … First-year QB Walker Wildmon is 12 of 19 for 98 yards in two games.
n Saltillo: RBs O’Brien Stewart and Quad Freeman give the Tigers a solid one-two punch in the backfield. Stewart, who has rushed for 210 yards in two games, scored on an 80-yard run against Caledonia. He also has 59 yards receiving on 4 catches. Freeman leads the team with 229 yards rushing on 26 carries. … QB Chase Watson is 4 of 17 passing for 59 yards in two games. … DL Wesley Ragin leads team in tackles, averaging 8 per game. Freeman and LB Landon McGinnis are averaging 7.5 stops.
TCPS (1-1) at H.W. Byers (0-2)
– This week: TCPS rebounded from its season-opening loss to Mantachie to defeat Wheeler 41-0. Byers, playing its first season of varsity football, has back-to-back losses to Coldwater, 30-20, and Holly Springs, 38-6.
– Recent history: TCPS defeated the Byers JV 39-20 last season.
– TCPS: QB Will Cockrell has completed 13 of 29 passes for 248 yards, 3 TD and 2 INT. … RB Dallas Finley has 17 carries for 142 yards and a TD. He’s caught 3 passes for 38 yards. … WR Clint McGraw has 5 receptions for 67 yards while WR Jager Livingston has 4 for 79 yards and a TD. … LB Andrew Soper leads Eagles with 24 tackles in two games. … Coach Aubrey Boren’s team is in its final season as a 1A independent.
– H.W. Byers: QB Chris Echols, who has been sidelined with a knee injury, is making his first start against TCPS. He played seven snaps against Holly Springs. … RB Trey Stephens is the team’s leading rusher. … LBs Dominic Jones and Ronnie Dennis lead team in tackles. … “We’re a young, inexperienced team,” coach James Kimbrough said. “We’re mostly freshmen and sophomores.” … Byers, a 1A independent, is playing a 7-game schedule this season.
Mantachie (1-1) at Mooreville (2-0)
– This week: The Highway 371 rivalry resumes is huge for both teams. The visiting Mustangs are looking to bounce back from last week’s 42-7 loss to Belmont while the host Troopers, who rolled past Strayhorn, 47-0, last week are looking to make it three straight.
– Recent history: Mooreville has won the last three meetings, including last season’s 28-7 win in Mantachie.
– Mantachie: The Mustangs’ productive running attack is directed by QB Dalton McMillen. “He’s a good runner,” Mooreville coach Kevin Austin said. “They’ve got good backs.” … WR Zack McCoy returned a second-quarter kickoff 72 yards for a TD against Belmont.
– Mooreville: QB Griff Loftis has completed 20 of 40 passes for 267 yards and 2 TD. … His top WR is Eric Dilworth, who has 9 catches for 157 yards and a TD. … RBs Josh Johnson and Gary Johnson, no relation, have combined for 183 yards rushing and scored 4 TD. … Hunter Slay leads team in tackles with 18. … “It’s hard to tell how good we are,” Austin said. “We’ve got more talent than we’ve had since I’ve been here (four years). I know there’s a lot of excitement about this team.”
Lafayette (2-0) at Oxford (2-0)
– This week: The annual “Crosstown Classic” features two teams off to tremendous starts. “I feel like Oxford is one of the best (Class) 5A teams out there,” said Lafayette head coach Anthony Hart, whose Class 4A Commodores are ranked second in the Daily Journal’s large schools’ rankings. Chargers head coach Johnny Hill had this to say of his team’s rival: “I think they’re loaded from top to bottom. They got Superman (6-3, 235-pound Jeremy Liggins) playing quarterback. They got experience. They’ll be a tough opponent.”
– Recent history: Lafayette has won the last three meetings: 31-21 in 2009; 32-7 in 2008; and 21-14 in 2007.
– Lafayette: Hill said if a team loads up in the box against the Commodores, then they’ll either throw it or run the option. He added that Lafayette likes “to keep you honest by running a counter trey with the quarterback or tailback.” … Hill is impressed with Lafayette’s speed on defense. “They’re probably one of the fastest defensive teams I’ve seen in a long time, probably since South Panola,” said Hill, who coached at Tupelo High. “We’ll have to stay on our blocks.” … Even though his team is 2-0, Hart said his players need to not turn the ball over as much and “do a better job of knowing their assignments and executing better on offense and defense.”
– Oxford: Hart said Hill has his best offensive line in 18 years. However, OG Joseph Swindall (ankle) will be a game-time decision. … Chargers QB Guy Cameron Billups “makes good decisions and gets the ball out of his hands at the right time to the right people,” said Hart. … The Chargers have 6 receivers they can throw to on a regular basis: Robert Liggins, Deshaun McNeal, Stan Ivy, Justin Ivy, Toler Presley and Robert Vaughn. Not to mention, they have a big tight end to go to in 6-foot-4, 240-pound Larry Pettus.
New Hope (0-1) at Amory (1-1)
– This week: Both teams look to bounce back from losses last week. New Hope lost at Tupelo, 33-23, while Amory got beat at home by Itawamba AHS, 38-14. Entering last Friday’s game, New Hope, a Class 5A state semifinalist last season, was ranked 25th in the state in Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Top 25 poll. “You know that you’ll get their best effort this time,” Amory head coach Trent Hammond said about tonight’s opponent.
– Recent history: New Hope won the 2009 and 2007 meetings – 42-7 and 35-28, respectively – with Amory winning in 2008, 23-20.
– New Hope: Speed and size best describes the Trojans. “They’re a power football team,” Hammond said. “They line up and run right at you, trying to run over you. It’s like old-time football. They got big kids running the ball and big kids blocking. All of them are really big kids.” … According to Hammond, the Trojans are balanced on offense, passing and running “equally well.” … On defense, the Trojans run a “3-3 stack,” and “bring a lot of pressure,” says Hammond. He added that the speedy Trojans are moving around consistently on defense, lining up at one spot and either sliding down or moving forward/backwards, and “run multiple coverages in the secondary. They do quite a few different things.”
– Amory: The Panthers’ difficult schedule continues tonight. At the start of the season, many considered New Hope to be the second best team in MHSAA’s Class 5A. “In the preseason, USA Today ranked our schedule the hardest schedule in the state of Mississippi. There’s never an easy week for us.” After playing Itawamba AHS and New Hope, the Panthers will face Class 3A power Aberdeen. … QB Forest Williams has completed 14 of 36 passes for 172 yards and 1 TD while being picked off twice. … The Panthers’ offense will be facing another defense with tremendous speed. “On defense, they play extremely fast,” Hammond said of New Hope. “They run to the football extremely well. There’s a swarm of kids every tackle because of their speed.”
Corinth (0-1) at New Albany (2-0)
– This week: Corinth begins its non-division schedule against Division 1-4A teams, while New Albany resumes its non-division slate against Division 1-3A teams. After facing New Albany tonight, the Warriors will play 1-4A teams Shannon, Tishomingo County and Itawamba AHS in consecutive weeks. “Maybe they’ll bang those guys up for division (play),” Bulldogs head coach Ron Price said about Corinth playing his team’s division opponents. New Albany opened the season with last year’s Division 1-3A champion Booneville and area rival Ripley. “This one is special for me,” Price said about playing Corinth tonight. Corinth “is my hometown. I would like to win this one this week.”
– Recent history: Corinth has won the last three meetings, including last year’s, 35-20. The Warriors won 28-22 in 2008 and 49-26 the year before.
– Corinth: The Warriors were two plays away from being 1-0 after last week’s game vs. Senatobia. A kickoff return for a touchdown and an 80-yard scoring run were the difference in Senatobia’s 13-6 win at Corinth. Those mistakes can probably be contributed to inexperience. “We’re very inexperienced,” said Corinth head coach Jimmy Mitchell. “We have three or four freshmen starting. We’re starting five freshmen on the kickoff team. We’re really young. We got seven seniors, and only three of them played before last year.” … Price said the Warriors, above anything else, look to establish a running game. “It appears that they want to establish a running game,” he said. “Last week, they had about 48 running plays and seven passing plays. … They’re in a spread formation, but they really want to run the football.” … Price said the Warriors defensively last week lined up in a five-man front and played man coverage – a man free, to be specific – on Senatobia’s receivers.
– New Albany: RB Kareem Brown said the Bulldogs offensive line – LT Mario Waldrop, LG Wade Simmons, C Terrance Riles, RG Cade Simmons and RT Collin Stubblefield – did a good job last week of protecting the quarterback and making significant holes which he was able to run through. … Although his team ran a hurry-up offense vs. Ripley last week, Price said his team hasn’t run its no-huddle offense this season. “We saw Ripley was getting tired, so went to a hurry-up. If we can push the ball a little bit, we might do something like that. We might hold off on running the no-huddle offense until later in the season.” … LBs Riley Alef and Zach Hand leads the Bulldogs defense. “We really challenged those guys to step up. They improve week to week, and have become very good. They’re a force to reckon with.”
Pontotoc (2-0) at Aberdeen (1-1)
– This week: In what Aberdeen head coach Chris Duncan has deemed one of the better games in North Mississippi, Duncan’s Bulldogs will try to go above .500 for the first time this season. Duncan will also be coaching against his former college football teammate and current fishing buddy, Ken Byars. Byars is an assistant coach for Pontotoc. “It’s a friendly rivalry,” Duncan said of coaching against Byars’ teams. Duncan has coached with his friend before, at Hatley High and West Bolivar High.
– Recent history: Pontotoc has won two of the last three meetings: 24-14 last year and 13-12 in 2007. The Bulldogs outscored the Warriors in 2008, 49-32.
– Pontotoc: RB Randall Crayton (ankle) is a game-time decision. “He’s a tall task for anybody,” Duncan said of defending Crayton. “I think he’s one of the best backs in North Mississippi. He’s very talented and very strong. He plays with 110 percent effort. To contain him is a tall task. I don’t know if you can. He can catch the ball; he can do anything. If you look to see where he’s at, you can find the ball.” If Crayton doesn’t play tonight, look for Texas transfer Don Fauver to get more touches. … Duncan added that Pontotoc is “good up front” and has “a lot of weapons.” … Look for Pontotoc to continue its use of two quarterbacks – Marcus Reed and Rashad Dixon. … The Warriors have experienced their fair share of injuries on the offensive line. “Four or five of our offensive linemen have been hurt at one time or another,” said Pontotoc head coach Charlie Dampeer. OG Lance Stubblefield (hand) is out for tonight’s game, and is expected to return in a couple of weeks. C Kyle Russell (ankle) is listed as questionable.
– Aberdeen: OT Damian Walker (stomach) is very doubtful for tonight’s game. If Walker can’t play, look for Brandon Hodges (6-3 1/2, 235) to take his spot. … RB Victor Hodges is expected to the carry the ball 15 to 20 times every game. Duncan describes him as a workhorse back whose hard-nosed. Hodges rushed 12 times for 136 yards and 3 TDs vs. Ray Brooks last week. … Senior Desmond Jones has limited experience at quarterback. “He’s coming along,” Duncan said. “We’re learning what he can do and what he can’t do. … He’s getting better each week.” Jones is 9 of 20 passing for 146 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs in 2 games.
Gene Phelps and John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal