By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
TUPELO – A young Tupelo High defense stepped up last week against two-time defending Class 4A champion Lafayette in the season opener.
Golden Wave head coach David Bradberry is looking for a repeat performance a week later in his team’s first home game of the year. Tupelo hosts Center Hill, located in Olive Branch, at 7:30 p.m. today.
Bradberry praised the effort on the defensive side of the ball in week one, even though the Golden Wave lost 8-3 to Lafayette.
“I was tickled to death with the effort they showed,” he said. “The defense talked about how you’re going to handle quick change. Well right off the bat we give up six (points) on an interception and the defense, it’s like they didn’t waver.”
Tupelo had two goal-line stands in the game, the first on Lafayette’s opening drive. On 4th-and-goal from inside the 5-yard line, States Norman and Ashton Wedel stopped running back D.K. Buford just short of a touchdown.
Holding a 5-point lead, the Commodores quickly drove into Tupelo territory in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Golden Wave stopped three straight rushes in the red zone for no gain to give the offense a last-chance scoring opportunity.
“They just bowed up and said we’re not going to let them in the endzone,” Bradberry said. “That’s character and hopefully something we can build on.”
The Golden Wave also found its way into the Lafayette backfield on a consistent basis. Justin Clifton and Demarcus Rogers both had sacks while James Gilleylen was among those who recorded tackles for loss.
Center Hill is coming off one of the best seasons in the school’s short history. The Mustangs, who had a bye during week one, won the Division 1-5A championship last year and finished with an 8-5 record.
Near 2,000-yard rusher Richard Hampton has graduated, but Jacob Marsh returns for a third year as the go-to quarterback. D’marius Gillespie is Marsh’s top target at wide receiver.