Northeast Tigers eye No. 2 spot with ICC win

By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – The Northeast Tigers have just one more MACJC North Division contest remaining.
Claim a victory in that matchup, and the Tigers, ranked No. 16 in the nation, are in the playoffs as the No. 2 seed from the North.
Just one more news item associated with today’s 7 p.m. division game – the Tigers are hosting rival ICC.
“Sure it’s a rivalry game,” Northeast coach Ricky Smither said. “Not only that, it has playoff implications.
“Our team has accepted that challenge, and they’re fired up.”
Northeast arrives at this point on the schedule off a 29-13 victory on the road against Coahoma last week. A much needed victory after the stinging 63-35 loss to No. 3 East Mississippi the previous week.
“That was a huge game for us, not only in meaning, but getting the kids back into things,” Smither said. “East Mississippi was a hard loss for us.
“We didn’t perform as good as a wanted against Coahoma, but our kids won, and I’m proud of them.”
Highlights of the Coahoma contested included Deion Belue returning the opening kickoff for a TD. Also, defensive back Frankie Lee grabbed his sixth interception of the season, good for second place in the state.
“All of our special teams played good against Coahoma,” Smither said. “Offensively, a couple of guys did some good things, too.”
Smither will need both his offense and defense doing good things as Itawamba comes in with a three-game winning streak. And most importantly, the Tigers and the Indians are in a two-way tie for second place in the North with only one loss each.
“They do some great things on offense, and do some great things on defense,” Smither said. “Their record does not indicate what kind of team they are.”
The irony for Northeast in this matchup is that the Tigers were basically in the same position this season as they were a year ago – the No. 2 seed could be wrapped up by the Tigers if they beat the Indians. ICC defeated Northeast in Fulton last year, 20-17, which led to a three-way tie for second place in the North that East Mississippi claimed.