By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Eight teams and seven games. That’s the schedule for area teams tonight in the MHSAA state football quarterfinals.
Three of those teams are in Class 5A. Two of them play each other in Starkville.
Oxford (9-3) goes to defending North champ Starkville (11-1) in the first matchup between the schools since 1980 and West Point (10-2) hosts Ridgeland.
“I hope we can make it a good game. They are loaded,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. “They’ve got a lot of experience but this is what you play for, to get a chance to move on. We’ve had a good week of practice.”
In Class 4A, undefeated Itawamba (12-0) hosts Noxubee County (13-0) and Houston (11-2) goes to Louisville, where it lost 35-14 earlier this season.
Thursday, street crews had one lane of Hwy. 25 closed as they painted IAHS’ tomahawk logos on the asphalt.
Itawamba AHS running back Ashton Shumpert said Wednesday’s practice was almost at game speed and that the Indians won’t veer off of what got them here.
“There are going to be some big plays on both sides,” Shumpert said. “We’re just going to do what we’ve been doing.”
Aberdeen is the area’s lone Class 3A team remaining. The Bulldogs (11-2) go to Charleston for the second straight season. Defending champion Charleston ended Aberdeen’s season there a year ago.
Two Class 2A teams remain, both from Calhoun County. Bruce (10-3) hosts defending champion West Bolivar and Calhoun City (9-4) hosts Eupora.
Calhoun City is the only team to beat Eupora this year. Bruce will face a West Bolivar offense led by Mississippi State commit Kailo Moore.
Bruce coach James Ray said Moore has “world class speed” and was especially impressive last week against Ackerman, when he rushed for 278 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.
“We have to get to him quick and can’t let him use his speed. And hit him,” Ray said. “He’s a tough guy, running harder than he’s ever run. We’ve got to hit him often. That’s our gameplan.”