By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – David Bradberry can’t be accused of scheduling creampuff non-division games for his Tupelo Golden Wave.
THS opens its 2011 football season on Aug. 19, hosting defending Class 4A state champion Lafayette and 6-foot-3, 235-pound standout quarterback Jeremy Liggins.
The Golden Wave then plays three consecutive road games against 5A Center Hill and Starkville, its former Division 1-6A rival, and 4A county rival Shannon, before opening division action on the road Sept. 23 at Columbus.
“Our non-division schedule will get us prepared for division play,” said Bradberry, who is entering his second season as Tupelo’s head coach. “Lafayette’s going to finish 16-0 or 15-1. I really believe that. I don’t know who in 4A can beat them.
“Starkville’s really a 6A team, one who can whip a bunch of folks. Shannon has always been a great rivalry for Tupelo. We’re eight miles apart. I think it’s good for both communities for us to play.”
Grenada, a team the Golden Wave will host Sept. 30, replaced Starkville in the division.
Tupelo’s other home games are division matchups against Southaven, DeSoto Central and Olive Branch. The Wave plays Oct. 14 at defending 6A state champion South Panola. The nation’s top-rated team defeated THS 62-6 last season in a regional TV game.
Bradberry, whose team kicks off practice Aug. 1 and hosts Pontotoc Aug. 12 in a two-quarter scrimmage, thinks his team made a lot of progress in February’s spring drills.
“We got to look at a lot of people who didn’t play a lot last year,” he said. “We tried to develop some offensive and defensive linemen.”
One of those linemen is senior Joey Tine, who started on the defensive front last season. The 315-pounder will add offensive guard to his assignments this fall.
Offensively, THS will look to senior returning quarterback Luke Hobson and a new class of receivers. Hobson passed for 1,221 yards and nine touchdowns in 2010.
“Luke has thrown the ball exceptionally well this summer,” Bradberry said. “He understands the offense. It’s important for him to be patient. He’ll have a new offensive line and a lot of new wide receivers to throw to.”
AUGUST: 19 – host Lafayette; 26 – at Center Hill
SEPTEMBER: 2 – at Starkville; 9 – at Shannon; 16 – open; 23 – at Columbus*; 30 – host Grenada*
OCTOBER: 7 – host Southaven*; 14 – at South Panola*; 21 – host DeSoto Central*; 28 – at Horn Lake*
NOVEMBER: 4 – host Olive Branch*
* – Division 1-6A games