Healthy Baldwyn is a different Baldwyn

Football stockBy Brandon Speck

Daily Journal

Baldwyn split its first six games of the season. For five of those, there were more playmakers in casts, on crutches and in slings than there were in pads.

For the first time since the first half of the first game of the season, Baldwyn will have all of its available starters on the field.

“We were in every ballgame except the Saltillo game, and we were in that early,” Baldwyn coach Michael Gray said. “Work ethic has been awesome. I think we’re right there. Get them all healthy and keep them healthy and I’m pretty excited what they can do.”

Injuries to playmakers resulted in at least one positive, an added spark on offense for No. 5 Baldwyn. Basketball starter Martel Brown is a first-year player – only three games in – but has a team-high four touchdowns, with six catches for 222 yards. He also starts at defensive back.

“His speed speaks for itself,” Gray said. “He’s still gradually learning on offense.”

Also back is sophomore athlete Duke Upshaw. A shoulder injury in the first half of the opener kept him out of three games. In Friday’s win at Tishomingo County, he had 233 yards of total offense, not including a 60-yard punt return called back.

“He’s probably as healthy as he’s been since his eighth-grade year,” Gray said. “He played really well Friday.”

Defensively, a freshman leads the team in tackles, Armontie Price with 10.7 per game, the state’s leader for freshmen.

Good path ahead?

On paper, Baldwyn should have even more time to get everyone back to 100 percent by the time the playoffs open. On paper, the schedule leads to a perfect division record, the toughest test likely tonight against visiting Mantachie.

The teams haven’t played since 2010 because Mantachie moved to 3A. After that, it’s at Hatley and Walnut, two teams Baldwyn’s dominated and newcomers East Union and New Site, teams still trying to find their footing.

That’s on paper. Games are on grass. And that starts with the much-improved Mustangs.

“They throw it around a little bit more than they ever have, but I expect a tough, physical football team every time we play them,” Gray said.

brandon.speck@journalinc.com