TUPELO – Tupelo first-year receivers Fred Hadley grimaced with every pass dropped by his pupils in last Friday’s 40-11 loss to Lafayette.
In preparation for today’s road game at Center Hill, Hadley sent his receivers through the basics – Receiving 101.
“We working on catching the ball,” he said. “I’ve also talked with them about having a short memory. If you drop one, move on.
“I think they were too excited (against) Lafayette. They never settled down.”
Matt McIntosh led the group with three catches for 84 yards, including a fourth-quarter TD grab of 70 yards.
“We’ve got a lot of speed in McIntosh and (Josh) Hamilton,” Hadley said. “They could be two of the best in the state if they keep working.”
The Golden Wave’s new-look offensive line passed its first test.
Tight end Ben Aldridge, center Aubrey Thomas, guards Joey Tine and Chance McCarty, and tackles Jalen Franklin and Eli Scott received praise from their quarterback, Luke Hobson, and offensive coordinator, Andy Crotwell.
“I was proud of them,” Hobson said. “I didn’t feel any pressure during the game.”
Crotwell added, “I thought the O-line held their own. When a defense is that good, they’re going to make plays in the run game.”
Tupelo’s running game was quiet, managing just 29 positive yards, 20 by standout tailback Ashton Shumpert, who played without knowing he had suffered a stress fracture in his lower leg, following a hit in the team’s Aug. 12 scrimmage against Pontotoc.
Shumpert, who rushed for 1,328 yards and scored 15 touchdowns as a sophomore last season, will be sidelined for three to four weeks, head coach David Bradberry said Wednesday.
Tenerious Montgomery and Kentarris Cannon are Shumpert’s backups.
Defensively, linebacker Ladarius Watkins led the Wave with 10 tackles against Lafayette. His unit will have its hands full again this week against Center Hill.
The 5A Mustangs, who were 10-3 a year ago against 4A competition, have a 1,300-yard running back in Richard Hampton. He’s also the team’s quarterback in the Wildcat set.
“Their quarterback (Jacon Marsh) is pretty good, too,” Wave defensive coordinator Lamar Aldridge said. “He’s really quick.”
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal