HIGH SCHOOL Preview capsules: Week One

All Games Start at 7:30 p.m.

No. 1 West Point at No. 2 Shannon
This week: The winner of this game will likely maintain or gain the top spot in the Daily Journal’s large schools’ rankings.
Recent history: West Point owns a 2-1 advantage in the last three regular-season meetings. The Wave beat Shannon 21-14 in 2008, while Shannon won 36-35 in 2007. West Point beat the Red Raiders 27-18 in 2006.
n West Point: The Wave like to run the ball and feature a senior FB, Xavier Hogan, who rushed for 600 yards and 10 TDs in 2008. He’ll get the majority of the carries this year along with junior TB LaKendrick Thomas.
Shannon: Another team that likes to run the ball, the Red Raiders feature prolific TB Keon McGaughy (1,571 yards in 2008). … Legilbert Bogan and Jake Scott could likely split some time at QB this season.

No. 3 Booneville at New Albany
This week: Booneville, the third-ranked team in DJ’s Class 3A rankings, will kick off coach Jim Drewry’s 50th season against an emotional Bulldogs team, whose starting linebacker died in June on a missionary trip. The Bulldogs will wear No. 7 decals on their helmets in honor of Marshuan Braxton, who would have been a senior captain this season.
Recent history: Haven’t played in last three seasons.
Booneville: The Blue Devils’ defense, led by senior LB Bo Brown (63 tackles, 2 INTs in ’08) may be a concern this season. Their offense, however, should be fine, led once again by Brown, who is a 1,000-yard rusher.
New Albany: The Bulldogs’ defense has also been a concern for the past couple of seasons. But head coach Ron Price has put all of his best players on defense to address that problem. … The Bulldogs feature a prominent rushing attack led by Eric Johnson and Kareem Brown, both rushed for more than 800 yards in 2008. … Tyler Basil replaces Drew Dodds at QB.

No. 1 Aberdeen at Columbus
This week: The Journal’s top-ranked Class 3A team travels to Columbus to take on the Class 6A Falcons.
Recent history: Haven’t played in last three seasons.
Aberdeen: The Bulldogs certainly have the skill players to score a lot of points. RB Jamerson Love and WR Erik Buchanan are Division I prospects. … Defensively, the Bulldogs should be pretty solid, as they have a couple of Division I-type players on that unit.
Columbus: The Falcons are coming off a dismal 1-10 season in which they only scored 14.5 ppg., while allowing 30.5.

Tupelo Christian at Mantachie
2008 record: Tupelo Christian 5-6, Mantachie 1-8.
This week: Tupelo Christian kicks off its first season as a member of the MHSAA.
Recent history: Haven’t played in last three seasons.
Tupelo Christian: Eagles lost 10 seniors off a 17-player roster from 2008. … They run a spread offense, led by QB Will Cockrell and multi-purpose Braxton Melancon.
Mantachie: Andrew Aldridge will be making his debut as the Mustangs’ head coach. … Senior Dalton McMillen will be in his first season as the starting QB.

Mooreville at Saltillo
2008 record: Mooreville 1-9, Saltillo 2-8.
This week: The battle for Lee County supremacy takes place in Saltillo tonight.
Recent history: Last two meetings were split, with Saltillo winning 30-7 last year and the Troopers beating the Tigers 28-0 in ’07.
Mooreville: The Troopers will be more experienced and healthier to start the 2009 season. … Junior QB Drew Wheeler is back after an upper body injury kept him out.
Saltillo: The Tigers may wind up using two quarterbacks, with friends Drew Chisholm and John Michael Parker directing the offense.

Nettleton at Amory
2008 record: Nettleton 4-6, Amory 6-6.
This week: Two former Division 2-3A opponents square off in a 2009 non-division game. Amory has moved up to Class 4A this season.
Recent history: Amory is 2-1 versus the Tigers in the last three meetings. The Panthers won 31-14 last year and 48-32 in 2007. The Tigers won 40-21 in 2006.
Nettleton: Coach Jack Clark says the defense (9 returning starters) needs to carry the team for a while, as the young offense gets its legs underneath them.
Amory: Panthers will be without QB Stephen Otey, RBs Evan Lackey and Frank Pruitt, and receivers Chris Fuse and Lashad White, who all graduated. Nonetheless, the Panthers are well-coached year in and year out.

South Pontotoc at East Webster
2008 record: South Pontotoc 1-9, East Webster 11-1.
This week: South Pontotoc meets a perennial small-school power, East Webster.
Recent history: Haven’t played in last three seasons.
South Pontotoc: The Cougars will be a little older and a little more experienced this season. … Junior QB Wesley Barefield passed for more than 1,000 yards despite missing 3 games with an injury.
East Webster: The Wolverines will have to reload a bit after losing several key players to graduation. But the Wolverines still have plenty of talent, including junior QB/LB Ledrick Patterson.

North Pontotoc at Lewisburg
2008 record: North Pontotoc 7-4, Lewisburg 3-7.
This week: Two newcomers to Class 4A will square off, having both moved up from 3A.
Recent history: Haven’t played in the last three seasons.
North Pontotoc: J.J. Plummer will be making his coaching debut for the Vikings. He has college coaching experience (Miss. State, Hinds Community College) and will be taking over a playoff team from last year.
Lewisburg: The Patriots gave up a whopping 34.1 points per game last season.

Check out the High School Football preview section in today’s NEMS Daily Journal. The section will be placed online later today.

John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

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