Consistent Wave defense confronts another option attack

By Blake Long/Special to the Journal

As Tupelo High leaves the comforts of its home stadium for the first time in over a month, the Golden Wave look to bring their impressive defense with them.
Tupelo (2-3, 0-1) gets a test from the option for the second time this season at Grenada (3-2, 1-0) tonight at 7:30.
In their first matchup against an option offense, the Wave gave up over 200 yards rushing against Lafayette County. However, the Commodores were held without an offensive touchdown.
A pattern developed from that point and has continued into Division 1-6A play. Opponents may put together sustained drives, but Tupelo consistently makes big plays when they need them.
“They bend but don’t break and just grind it out,” Tupelo defensive coordinator Lamar Aldridge said.
That mentality was seen in Columbus’s opening drive last week. The Falcons started at their own 45-yard line and drove within nine yards of a score.
The Golden Wave stopped them at that point on four straight plays, the last an incomplete pass on 4th-and-goal from the 1.
“We don’t like being (at the goal line), but we know we have to step up then,” said Tupelo linebacker Ashton Wedel, who leads the team with 53 tackles – an average of over 10 per game.
Included in the big plays are turnovers and Aldridge expects his defense to come up with three each game.
“We’ve got to force some turnovers,” Aldridge said. “If you can get three a game, you’ve got a chance to win.”
That’s happened once this year, a victory for Tupelo over Shannon. In two other games the Golden Wave failed to haul in a turnover, both losses.
Six different players have come away with a turnover so far this season.
“We’re strong and don’t give up,” Wedel said. “We give 100 percent every play.”