HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL 2009: It all opens with a bang

How about this for an opening game?
West Point vs. Shannon.
The two top-ranked teams in the area, having recently played great games against one another, will kick off their 2009 campaigns tonight at 7:30 in Shannon.
No. 1 vs. No. 2: the Daily Journal’s top-ranked Wave against the second-ranked Red Raiders.
“It will be a good opening game, a good test,” said Wave head coach Chris Chambless. “I’m sure they would think the same about us.”
Shannon head coach Chad Cook certainly agrees.
“You take the games in the last two years and you see it was toe-to-toe in the fourth quarter,” Cook said. “It’s going to be the same thing again this year.”
The Wave beat Shannon 21-14 in its season opener last year in West Point. In 2007, the Red Raiders got the best of the Wave, 36-35, in their season opener at home.
This year’s game does indeed have all the makings for another great contest. However, both teams are coming off not so great performances in last week’s scrimmages.
The Red Raiders scrimmaged Southaven last Friday without several of their key players, who were out sick with a bad stomach bug.
“It really wasn’t what we were looking for,” Cook said. “We had several guys out who were sick.
“We had to play a lot of young guys, a lot of second team guys on a one-day notice.”
West Point, on the other hand, did look impressive at times in its scrimmage against Tupelo last Friday. Although, Chambless still sees room for improvement.
“It was a great effort, but we still made a lot of mistakes that we gotta correct,” the fourth-year West Point coach said.
With the scrimmages out of the way and the regular season starting, look for big-time playmakers on both teams to begin making big plays.
After watching film of West Point, Cook said he was impressed with running back Jeremy Cannon and wide receiver Michael Carr, to name a few.

‘Big, fast and physical’
“The first thing that comes to mind when you click on the film was that they’re big, fast and physical,” noted the third-year Shannon coach. “When I watched West Point the last three years, it looked like they had reloaded.
“Cannon and Carr stand out on offense. When they got the ball in their hands, you gotta tackle well it seems like. They break the first tackle every time. They play fast.”
For West Point’s defense, the player it may have the most trouble with tonight could very well be running back Keon McGaughy.
“He’s a load,” Chambless said of Shannon’s 6-foot-2, 205-pound back. “He’s going to be hard to tackle. He loves contact.”
Other games to watch:
– Aberdeen at Columbus: Aberdeen will begin its quest for a state title tonight.
– Booneville at New Albany: Emotional night for the Bulldogs, as they begin their season without team leader Marshuan Braxton, who died in June on a missionary trip. This year will be Booneville coach Jim Drewry’s 50th season.
– Mooreville at Saltillo: The battle for Lee County supremacy takes place tonight. Saltillo won 30-7 last season.
– Nettleton at Amory: Once division foes, now just MHSAA Classic foes when the two tangle tonight in a matchup between Class 3A Nettleton and now Class 4A Amory. Amory won 31-14 last season.
– North Pontotoc at Lewisburg: J.J. Plummer makes his coaching debut for the Vikings.
– Tupelo Christian at Mantachie: The TCPS Eagles make their MHSAA debut against the Mustangs.

– Read more in the Football Journal inside the NEMS Daily Journal today. The section will be placed online later today.

– Watch for scores at NEMS360.com tonight.

John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal