By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
TUPELO – There was a bit of uncertainty as to whether today’s annual rivalry game between Tupelo and Starkville would be played.
The reason – potential heavy rain from Hurricane Isaac.
However, officials decided on Thursday to keep the scheduled kickoff between the host Golden Wave and visiting Yellow Jackets. They did move up game time – from 7:30 to 7 p.m. – in case of weather-related delays.
Tupelo coach David Bradberry said Wednesday the field itself is in very good shape and the drainage system can handle a fair amount of water.
“If we get two-to-three inches, we still think we’ll be fine,” he said. “It’ll be as good as any natural grass surface you could play on.”
There was discussion earlier this week by officials from Tupelo and Starkville about moving the game to Sept. 14, an open date for both teams. But for now, the focus is on tonight.
“They’re zeroed in and they’re geared up to play a great football team,” Bradberry said of his squad. “(Starkville) has got a bunch of good ball players.”
Injuries have taken their toll on Starkville, though, early this season. Yellow Jackets coach Jamie Mitchell said six offensive starters, including Dandy Dozen quarterback Gabe Myles, will not play against Tupelo.
The opposite side of the ball has seen its share of injuries as well for the defending Class 5A North champions. Defensive leader David Fair is also out for tonight’s contest.
“We’re a shell of what we should be,” said Mitchell. “It’s really hurt. I wish it wasn’t this way, but we’re not going to make any excuses.”
Tupelo, No. 3 in the Daily Journal’s large school rankings, is prepared for both Myles and sophomore Caleb Wilson, who stepped in as the Jackets starting QB last week.
“Wilson’s gonna be a good quarterback,” Bradberry said. “He presents a little different look than what Myles gives you.”
The Golden Wave (1-1) look for continued production out of running back Quinn Tiggs. The junior has averaged 100 yards per game through two contests.
Starkville (0-2) will be playing its second game in a row in wet conditions after rain-plagued the first half last week on the artificial turf at Madison Central.