By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
Even before the Calhoun City High football team had played a division game, Vardaman High coach Justin Hollis was ready to pencil in the Wildcats for a spot in the Class 2A North championship game.
Them or East Webster.
“East Webster and Calhoun City are outstanding football teams,” Hollis said nearly two weeks ago, just before those two teams were to begin division play. “They’re so experienced.
“I expect one of those two teams to play for the 2A North title. If those teams aren’t playing for it, I’d be very surprised.”
Hollis knows firsthand how good the Wildcats and Wolverines are; his Class 1A Rams club – which is ranked third, behind East Webster and Calhoun City, in the Daily Journal’s small schools’ rankings – lost to those two teams by a combined 85-0 in back-to-back games in September.
“Calhoun City and East Webster are on a mission this year,” Hollis said.
Calhoun City defeated Mantachie 48-21 on the road Friday to improve to 8-0 and 2-0 in Division 1-2A. The Wildcats are averaging close to 41 points per game while only giving up nearly nine points per contest.
In Division 2-2A, East Webster is 2-0 (8-0 overall) after dismantling last year’s Class 2A state runner-up Ackerman 41-14 on the Indians’ home field Friday evening. The Wolverines have recorded four shutouts while outscoring their opponents 332-70 this season.
If Calhoun City and East Webster win their respective divisions and also win their first- and second-round playoff games, then the two clubs will play each other in the state quarterfinals on Nov. 19.
While Calhoun City and East Webster feature plenty of great skill players and tremendous defenses, both teams would probably admit that there’s room for improvement before the playoffs begin – and they aren’t ready to talk playoffs just yet.
“We still have little things, such as technique, that we got to improve on,” Calhoun City senior quarterback J.R. Jennings said after his team blew out last year’s Division 1-2A champion, Baldwyn, 34-7 on Oct. 1.
Said Calhoun City junior running back Avery Hill, “The only thing that Coach (Perry Liles) is going to preach to us is to go one game at a time. To win these games, we gotta focus on just that game that is coming up (at the end of the week). It’s the only way we can get it done.”