By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
The Itawamba Indians were dealt a body-blow of a loss last week, giving up a 17-0 halftime lead in a 24-17 loss to East Central.
But in the physiology of sports, the Indians 0-3 start can be erased very quickly today with a victory in their North Division opener at East Mississippi, which begins at 7 p.m.
“Our defense played really well against East Central,” head coach Jon Williams said. “Take away one long pass, and we held them to 81 yards of offense.
“But it’s a new season ahead of us with North Division play. Certainly, we’ll have our hands full with a nationally ranked team.”
It will certainly be a challenge as East (3-0, 1-0) sports a No. 4 ranking nationally, and is averaging a little under 500 yards of offense per game.
“We have to put together a game plan that defends their quarterback and running back,” Williams said. “It’s a two-head monster because East Mississippi is so efficient at both aspects of the game, passing and running.
“But our team is anxious to get back on the field, because last week left a bitter taste in our mouth.”
On the positive side, Williams can point to improved play by the Indians’ defense. That improvement was highlighted last week with lineman Tim McAdoo getting three sacks, and defensive back Ashton Ballard grabbing two interceptions.
“I think those were standout performances by a couple of guys we expect to lead this team,” Williams said. “The big thing now for our defense is consistency over four quarters.”
The Itawamba offense could also use a shot of consistency. Against East Central last week in the second half, Itawamba possessions consisted of a punt, missed field goal, and two interceptions.
“What people are doing is challenging us to throw,” Williams said. “We have to be more consistent throwing the ball.
“We just have to go out and play sound football, and we’ll have a chance to win the game.”