By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Tupelo can punch its ticket to the postseason tonight with a road win against Horn Lake.
It’s that simple.
However, the Golden Wave’s playoff hopes would take a punch in the mouth if it loses this Division 1-6A game to the Eagles.
“We’ve got to win,” Tupelo coach David Bradberry said. “If we do, I’ll feel good.”
Tupelo (5-4, 3-2) and Horn Lake (6-3, 2-3) each have one regular season division game remaining next week – Tupelo hosts No. 1-ranked Olive Branch while Horn Lake travels to Southaven.
Olive Branch, South Panola and Columbus have locked up the division’s top three spots. All three teams would own tiebreakers over the Golden Wave and Eagles.
Tupelo rebounded from its lopsided loss to South Panola to beat DeSoto Central 42-14 last week while Horn Lake lost 41-21 to Columbus.
Horn Lake quarterback Josh Cooley has completed 100 of 214 passes for 1,059 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine picks. Three of those interceptions came last week against Columbus.
Cooley’s also a danger on the ground, rushing for 478 yards and six scores.
“In our league, you have to be able to control the run,” Bradberry said. “Horn Lake likes to throw the ball 50 percent of the time. We’ve got to be able to defend the total package. I think we’re getting better against the run.”
Horn Lake’s defense will be tested by Tupelo’s two-quarterback system that has tailback Ashton Shumpert in the wildcat formation running and passing, and true QB Thomas Harris in the backfield at times.
The Wave’s 3-1 since losing starting quarterback Luke Hobson to a leg injury.
“Having Ashton back there adds another deminsion for the other team to prepare for,” Bradberry said. “It’s an advantage.”
Shumpert has rushed for 509 yards and scored five touchdowns after missing four weeks early in the season. Tenerious Montgomery has added 301 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Harris has completed 16 of 31 passes for 311 yards and two TDs.