All kickoffs are at 7:30 tonight
Columbus (2-2) at Tupelo (3-0)
– This week: Tupelo is coming off an open date after a 17-0 win against Louisville Sept. 10. Columbus lost last week, 36-28, to Louisville. This is the Division 1-6A opener for both teams.
– Recent history: Tupelo defeated Columbus 10-6 last season. The Falcons last win the series came on Sept. 30, 2005, when QB Tyson Lee led Columbus to a 24-13 home victory.
– Columbus: QB Cedric Jackson, described by THS coaches as an “elusive scrambler” has completed 13 of 17 passes for 187 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT. … RB Damien Baker has rushed for 183 yards and scored 1 TD. … WR Jamarcus Jones has 16 catches for 243 yards and 1 TD. “Columbus is one of the better teams in our division. They have a lot of explosive firepower on offense,” THS coach David Bradberry said. … DB George Lowery averages 6 tackles per game.
– Tupelo: RB/LB Ashton Shumpert, a sophomore, has rushed for 423 yards and scored 6 TD. … QB Luke Hobson has completed 14 of 29 for 291 yards and 2 TD. … LB Damion Dillard recorded 12 tackles two weeks ago in the win against Louisville. LB Ladaruis Watkins had 6 stops and 1 TFL while Shumpert added 3 tackles. … K Hunter Raines kicked a 49-yard FG against Louisville.
Mooreville (5-0) at Kossuth (3-2)
– This week: Mooreville defeated Alcorn Central 42-0 last week for its fifth consecutive win. Kossuth was a winner, too, knocking off Walnut, 32-28.
– Recent history: Mooreville defeated Kossuth 17-13 last season.
– Mooreville: QB Griff Loftis passed for 186 yards and 2 TDs last week against Alcorn Central – 27 yards to Quntrail Burks and 16 yards to Gary Johnson. … “You usually see Mooreville for baseball, now it’s starting to turn into football,” Loftis said. … RB Josh Johnson had 2 TD runs against AC covering 1 and 14 yards. … The Troopers begin Division 2-3A play next week, hosting South Pontotoc.
– Kossuth: QB Jay Vanderford has completed 28 of 53 passes for 439 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT. He threw 2 TD passes last week against Walnut. … RB Wesley Davis has rushed for 390 yards and 1 TD. He ran for 167 yards against Walnut. … RB Justin Whitaker scored the game-winning TD last week on a 27-yard run with 48 seconds remaining. … The Aggies open 1-3A play next week when they host Belmont.
Saltillo (3-1) at Clarksdale (2-2)
– This week: Saltillo had an open date last week after beating Booneville 38-28 Sept. 10 for its third straight win. Clarksdale lost 39-0 last week to top-ranked South Panola. This the Division 1-5A opener for both teams. “I like to call it the bear-trap part of our schedule,” Saltillo coach Pat Byrd said.
– Recent history: Clarksdale defeated Saltillo 14-7 last season.
– Clarksdale: QB Cornelius Williams carried the ball 23 times last week for only 10 yards against South Panola. He rushed for 91 yards and 2 TD against Christian Brothers on Sept. 3. … RB Hanson Smith had a 93-yard rushing effort against Christian Brothers. … LB Jordan Harris had a season-high 12 tackles in a win against Greenville-Weston. … “They’re very athletic,” Byrd said. “They run the triple option which makes them tough to defend.”
– Saltillo: QB Chase Watson has completed 10 of 39 for 208 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT. … RB Obrien Stewart has 71 rushes for 608 yards and 5 TD; 5 catches for 106 yards, 1 TD. … RB/LB Quad Freeman has 40 carries for 305 yards, 2 TD. … DB Khary Staggs averaging 8.3 tackles per game. … Byrd says the open date came at a good time. “We used three days to let them get their legs back under them. The rest of the time we worked on blocking and tackling,” he said. “We really needed it to get healthy.”
Shannon (2-2) at Cleveland (1-4)
– This week: Shannon defeated Amory 21-14 last week. Cleveland lost 22-0 last week to crosstown rival Cleveland East Side.
– Recent history: Shannon defeated Cleveland 41-32 last season.
– Cleveland: The team’s lone win was a 12-7 victory against West Bolivar. Two of the losses have been to Lafayette and Leland. … RB Eddie McCadney rushed for 54 yards in last week’s game. … QB Taylor Summers was 2 of 14 passing against East Side. Jahmel McIntosh could see action under center this week. … “They are really good defensively. Nobody’s move ball on them,” Shannon coach Chad Cook said. “Offensively, they’ve had problems scoring, sustaining drives.”
– Shannon: QB/WR Jake Scott is expected to start under center for the second straight week while starter Legilbert Bogan is considered day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. … RB Marcus Thornton has rushed for 269 yards and scored 4 TD. He had a 9-yard score against Amory. … The Red Raiders have scored 21 points in the first quarter of their last two games. “We’ve scored 42 points in the first quarter and only seven in the second, third and fourth quarters,” Cook noted. “I can’t put a finger on it. Are teams adjusting to us? Is it youth? Is it being satisfied and thinking the game’s over? If we play one quarter of football this week, we’re going to get beat.”
Baldwyn (1-4) at Ripley (1-4)
– This week: Don’t be surprised to see these two tradition-rich teams atop their division standings by the end of the season. Yes, both teams are 1-4 entering tonight’s non-division game, but both have played brutal non-division schedules against bigger schools. Not to mention, both teams were young and inexperienced to start the season, and should be accustomed now to Friday night varsity football. Baldwyn has only five seniors, while Ripley is down to just four. Both teams’ head coaches expect a close game tonight.
– Recent history: Ripley won last year’s meeting, 29-6, in Baldwyn.
– Baldwyn: Ripley head coach Grady McCluskey was impressed by the Bearcats’ skill people. He said, with a young offensive line, Baldwyn likes to get the ball out to its skill players in space. Walker Wildmon and Reggie Patterson have split time at quarterback this season, and RB Lorenzo Hill is the team’s leading rusher with 437 yards and is second on the team in receiving yards with 106. … Baldwyn head coach Michael Gray said his club has been “turning the ball over way too much to be successful. We have little breakdowns that young teams have and our inexperience shows at the wrong time.” … MLB Tyler Estes has been “solid in the middle,” and Patterson, a DB, has been matched up with the opponent’s best WR every week, said Gray. The Bearcats coach added that his team has been playing several guys on the defensive line to keep his players fresh. … Gray said his team has been struggling with injuries and depth. DL Parrish Huddleston is day-to-day after suffering a high ankle sprain.
– Ripley: Gray said the Tigers like to control the clock and the football by consistently running right at you. “They’re a pro-I team that likes to run the football and likes to pound it,” said the Baldwyn coach. … McCluskey has more support to assist him with leading his team. There are now 7 Ripley coaches, up from the 4 that were coaching the 70 players in the extreme heat of training camp and the first couple of weeks of the regular season. … Senior OT Jonathan Carter, Ripley’s best OL, is out again this week with a torn MCL, but could be cleared to play next week. Freshman DL Devonte Barkley (concussion) is out for the season. Sophomore OL/DL Keeton Hamilton (wrist) played last week vs. Itawamba AHS and will play in tonight’s game. Not to mention, a bad stomach bug has hit the team this week, with QB Austin Hamilton and TB Devin Jones among those having missed practice time. They’ll play in tonight’s game.
Corinth (1-3) at Itawamba AHS (2-3)
– This week: This will be the fourth straight week Corinth will have played a Division 1-4A team, and Itawamba AHS’ second consecutive week to face a Division 1-3A team. Corinth lost to New Albany and Shannon before defeating Tishomingo County last week. Itawamba AHS defeated Corinth’s rival, Ripley, 28-13 last Friday.
n Recent history: Itawamba AHS won at Corinth last year, 33-14.
– Corinth: Itawamba AHS head coach Ashley Kuhn said Corinth has good skill players and “mix it up mostly out of a shotgun formation or spread set.” … Kuhn, just like Shannon head coach Chad Cook, speaks fondly of MLB Trevor Toomer. “He’s really an impressive one,” the IAHS coach said. “He really sticks out when you watch film.” … Kuhn pointed out that Warriors QB Lew Johnson is a dual threat. “He does a really good job managing the game,” Kuhn said. “He can run it himself and even throw it on the run. The kid can be dangerous.” … Corinth head coach Jimmy Mitchell says his team is suffering from the injury bug. “It’s just one of those years that every time we turned around, someone would go down,” the Corinth coach said Thursday afternoon. “We have two or three question marks for tomorrow night.”
– Itawamba AHS: Kuhn said his team “really tried to make a commitment to the running game” last week vs. Ripley. “I thought we made some improvements there,” he said. “We had two turnovers inside the 20 that really hurt us. We had a good game throwing the ball.” … Mitchell said IAHS’ WRs are taller than his defensive players. … The Corinth coach said he and his staff watched film of the Indians’ games vs. Lafayette and Ripley. “They make you earn what you get,” Mitchell said. … WR/DB Devonta Jackson is lost for the season after tearing several ligaments in his ankle. “He was our long snapper, we ran the ball a lot of with him on the perimeter and we threw the ball to him a lot,” Kuhn said. “He was one of our main playmakers.” … K Tyler Dossett (quad) is questionable for tonight. QB Maikhail Miller has handled the kicking duties in his absence.
Nettleton (3-2) at Bruce (1-4)
– This week: This game will be a matchup of two teams that are beginning to play their best football as division play approaches. “We probably had our two best practices (of the season) this week,” said Bruce head coach James Ray, who no longer thinks the adjective “young” is appropriate to describe his players. “They have already played in so many games. Most of our 10th-graders started all last year as ninth-graders.” Meanwhile, Nettleton has won three in a row since going 0-2 to start the season.
– Recent history: Nettleton won last year at home, 29-12.
– Nettleton: Ever since the Tigers made a switch at QB, from junior Odarius Lowe to freshman Dakota Cruber, in Week 2, the Tigers’ offense has been clicking. Nettleton has scored 94 points in its last three games combined. The move was made not because of Lowe’s performance at QB, but because his team wasn’t getting a lot of production from its WRs. Since making the transition back to WR, Lowe has caught a team-high 17 passes for 253 yards and 2 TDs. … Another big part of the Tigers’ offense is RB Corbin White, who has rushed 65 times for 536 yards and 5 TDs. … Ray says the Tigers’ D doesn’t make mistakes to hurt themselves and isn’t usually out of position.
– Bruce: Nettleton head coach Jack Clark says the Trojans are “very multiple as far as formations. They put you in a lot of binds. They’re the second best offensive team, other than North Pontotoc, that we’ve played so far. They’re in a lot of formations and run a lot of motion.” … OT B.J. Daniel, who is regarded as the Trojans’ best lineman, is out for the season with a torn ACL. … RB Zay Armstrong is the team’s leading rusher with 58 carries for 400 yards and 4 TDs.
Pontotoc (4-1) at Amory (1-4)
– This week: If you had to pick a winner for tonight’s game, you would probably pick Pontotoc based on both teams’ records. However, don’t let those records fool you. “Amory’s played a rugged schedule,” said Pontotoc head coach Charlie Dampeer. “That’s part of the deal. They’ve played a tougher schedule. We know we have to play hard. Amory’s always going to give good effort.”
– Recent history: Pontotoc won last year’s meeting at home, 35-6.
– Pontotoc: Amory head coach Trent Hammond said the Warriors are an exceptionally tough team to scheme defensively for. “They do a ton of stuff,” he said. “They line up in a lot of multiple formations. They can be in one formation and then shift into a whole new look on the other side.” … RB Randall Crayton (ankle) and OG Lance Stubblefield (hand) have returned from injuries. … NG Devonta Montgomery has been described as being “unblockable” this season.
– Amory: Dampeer said it seems like the Panthers are throwing 90 percent of the time on offense. “It’s something we don’t see very often,” the Pontotoc coach said. “They’re throwing most of the time. They have no backs in the backfield and are throwing it every down.” … QB Forest Williams has completed 50.4 percent of his passes (69 for 137 for 650 yards and 4 TDs) and has been intercepted 8 times. … Hammond said his team has suffered a “few nicks and bruises, but nothing to keep somebody out.”
Okolona (2-2) at Falkner (1-3)
– This week: This is both teams’ Division 1-1A opener.
– Recent history: The last two contests have been decided by 8 points or less. Okolona won last year’s contest at home, 20-12, while Falkner came away with a 13-6 victory at Okolona in 2008. The Chieftains cruised to a 40-9 win at Falkner in 2007.
– Okolona: QB Jordan Ivy is 20 of 35 passing for 316 yards, 5 TDs and 2 INTs. … RB Everett Brooks has rushed 23 times for 251 yards and 3 TDs. … WR Antwan Grady has 13 receptions for 263 yards and 6 TDs.
– Falkner: RB Will Robertson has rushed 73 times for 466 yards and 4 TDs. He also leads the team in receiving with 9 catches for 122 yards and 2 TDs. … Okolona head coach Calvin Aldridge says the Eagles feature a big, talented and experienced offensive line. … LB/DE Tyler Hearn is the Eagles’ leading tackler, averaging 6.5 per game. He also leads the team in sacks with 3.5.
Gene Phelps and John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal