Even though Aberdeen is a member of MHSAA’s Class 3A, that doesn’t prevent Chad Cook from comparing the Bulldogs to large school powerhouses Noxubee County and West Point.
“The first thing that stands out about them,” said the Shannon head coach, “is that they’re really fast. The 11 they put on both sides of the ball are really fast – even their linemen.
“They remind me a lot of West Point and Noxubee County with their athleticism.”
Seeing a 6-foot-4, 258-pound defensive tackle/tight end, with 4.4 speed, go from sideline to sideline, up and down the field making plays, will certainly grab most people’s attention, but he’s not the only one making plays for the Daily Journal’s top-ranked Class 3A team, says Cook.
“Aberdeen is more than Channing Ward,” said the Shannon coach. “Their linebackers, safety, defensive ends and defensive tackles play hard.”
Yes, the Bulldogs lost by 17 points to Class 6A Columbus last week, but that score isn’t a true indicator of how the majority of the game went.
“I thought the score last week was not a true indication of what Aberdeen was doing for most of the game,” Cook said after watching film of the Bulldogs’ season opener. “I thought Aberdeen had been in control.”
Even though the Bulldogs feature some youngsters on offense, head coach Chris Duncan said he and his staff will try to stick with those players who started the opener and not make any personnel changes anytime soon.
As the Aberdeen offense struggled to put up points, turning the ball over five times, the Red Raiders had their struggles of their own – early on, that is, of an eventual 33-7 victory at home.
“We started off a little slow on offense. We were playing uptight,” Cook said. “You can’t do that on offense.
“It takes all 11 players on offense to make a play work.”
The reason behind the Raiders’ difficulties could reside in the inexperience of several starters. Friday night at Aberdeen High School is likely to be a major test for the Daily Journal’s fourth-ranked large school.
“A lot of guys on this team haven’t played on the road in a tough environment before,” said Cook. “We opened up at home and we were nervous. … We can’t just show up, and we have to be ready to perform Friday night.”
Playing Aberdeen is something the Red Raiders have tried to do since 2007, says Cook.
“This is the first year we are able to play them,” he added. “When you watch film, you see that they got players all over the field. They have players who could start for anybody, any program around here.”
Even for Noxubee County and West Point, says the Shannon coach.
And perhaps the same could be said about the Red Raiders’ personnel.
“They’re very athletic and big up front,” said Duncan. “They got a good football team. We don’t see many teams like that very often in 3A.
“We got our hands full.”
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal