No matter what, every football team will go through injuries, and these two longtime area high school coaches can attest to that.
“I’ve been coaching 37 years, and you’re not going to finish the season with the same people you’re starting with,” said Corinth head coach Jimmy Mitchell, whose team lost both its starting center and defensive end after its first game of the season.
Tonight, Mitchell’s Warriors (5-3) will play at undefeated Booneville (8-0), another team that has had its fair share of injuries.
“We’ve got several people who are out,” said Blue Devils head coach Jim Drewry. “We’ve had injuries to both centers (Hunter Prather and Kane Langston). We had to move a guard (Aaron Duncan) over to the center spot. We’ve had a defensive back (Cantrell Hastings) out with an ACL injury.
“We got to the point where we had to play (starting quarterback Jerion) Jones on defense because of some injuries back there.
“We’re actually a bummed-up ballclub right now.”
However, both teams’ injuries – and the flu as well, in Corinth’s case – haven’t yet ruined their seasons. Corinth and Booneville are both 3-0 in Division 1-3A with just two more games, including tonight’s, remaining in the regular season.
“Our first five non-division games we were able to look at things in game situations,” Mitchell said of his team’s games against Class 4A teams Senatobia, New Albany, Shannon, Tishomingo County and Itawamba AHS. “They were an opportunity to move people around in different places.
“We wanted to make sure we’re settled in once we started playing division games. We always try to do that every year.”
One of the players that the Corinth coaching staff experimented with at different positions during the first month of the season was Deonta Herman. The junior defensive back, who was also listed as a wide receiver to start the season, has settled in nicely as a running back since division play started.
“He had a big running game last week,” Mitchell said of the talented basketball player who rushed for 130 yards and three TDs against Alcorn Central. “He didn’t play football last year. He played his freshman year.
“He’s now beginning to catch on. He’s athletic enough to do great.”
While Herman has played football prior to this season, some of Corinth’s offensive linemen have never played.
“We’re hurting with experience on the offensive line,” said Mitchell, who lost his entire offensive line from last year. “We got some kids starting that never played football. One kid came out from the band. We have two that never played a down of football until this year.
“We have a freshman starting at center. The first thing we got to have is the snap and Aaron (Anderson) does a good job of that.”
Frazier gets it done
Fortunately for Corinth, most of its skill players are in their second season as starters. Senior quarterback Parks Frazier stepped in for the injured Zerrick Payne during the second game of last year, and “everything jelled well,” Mitchell said.
Last season, Frazier threw for more than 1,900 yards and tossed eight TD passes, and this year, Frazier has passed for 1,674 yards and has thrown 14 touchdown passes in eight games.
“He’s big, strong and has got a tremendous arm on him,” Drewry said. “He runs hard as far as short-yardage (carries).
“He’s got outstanding receivers and he uses them all. That’s what makes it so tough – they’ve got four or five receivers that makes it hard on us. If they had one or two receivers, we could cover them.”
Senior wide receiver/defensive back Diante Curlee has been a huge playmaker for the explosive Warriors, accounting for 1,226 all-purpose yards this season.
“They put more than 500 yards of total offense on Ripley,” Drewry said, “and an unbelievable 400-and-some yards of it was throwing the football.”
But to do that against Booneville may be a tall order.
After watching video of Booneville, Mitchell said the Blue Devils are playing great defense right now, especially around the goal line. He cited examples in last Friday’s game against Kossuth where the Booneville D stopped Kossuth twice on possessions inside the Blue Devils’ 5-yard line and once more when the Aggies got inside the Booneville 10; the Aggies failed to score on those possessions and wound up losing 20-6.
“They’re playing defense as a team well,” Mitchell said. “It makes it hard trying to beat all 11 of them.”
When talking to Drewry this week, the only thing, he made it seem like, that may lead to his team winning is if his offense scores often.
“We’ve got one coming up on Friday that scores a lot of points,” Drewry said before Tuesday’s practice. “The only thing we can do is to try to outscore them.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal