BY BRANDON SPECK
High school football returns this week. It’s just one game for every team – Lafayette at Tupelo among them. But not every team has the excitement surrounding it that Tupelo High does.
After the Golden Wave missed the Class 6A playoffs last season, this one game has been a long time coming.
“We want to win all of them. This one is just like every other one,” new Tupelo coach Trent Hammond said. “Anytime you can win one, it jumpstarts you, but this is Week 1 of our 11-game season.”
Tupelo is hoping to play more than 11 games. That would require a return trip to the playoffs.
Hammond and new offensive coordinator John Keith came over from Amory, where they shared a lot of success with an up-tempo Amory team that made it to the North finals two seasons ago.
The team that ended those Class 4A title hopes: Lafayette. Hammond says there’s no revenge factor Friday.
“No, it’s just line up and play again,” he said.
Hammond isn’t harboring any angst from that season’s end, but this fresh beginning has the community excited, about the new staff and about an offense that is expected to favor the one that had Amory flying near the top of 4A. Hammond and Keith have both said time will tell where this offense goes. They’ve kept the options wide open.
The two are in a nice position of having two quarterbacks they like. Sophomore Daniel Bristow has gotten the starting nod. Junior quarterback Alex Norwood has shown receiving chemistry with Bristow. There were things to fix, but Hammond liked the defensive speed he saw in a scrimmage Friday at Itawamba AHS.
Defensively, it’s about dealing with the likes of national power South Panola, winner of three of the last four 6A titles, and Olive Branch, which won that other one two seasons ago. Both are in Tupelo’s division.
The competition is there, but so is a new excitement from the players.
“They’re all handling it really, really well,” Hammond said. “I think they’ve enjoyed becoming somebody in town that people are talking about and wanting to be a part of something they’ve missed.”