Special to the Journal
The Itawamba Indians and the Northeast Tigers each bagged 34 new players in the initial stages of recruiting that began with Wednesday’s signing day.
The Indians are fresh off a playoff appearance and posting 6-4 and 4-2 records overall and in North Division play from 2013. But the always problematic turnover of the roster left some holes that head coach Jon Williams feels were filled nicely this week so far.
“I certainly feel we hit all our needs,” Williams said. “A few of those guys we signed will be immediate difference makers along the front seven.
“And I’m really pleased with the offensive skill we recruited there.”
Of the success many area high schools had during the recently completed season, Tupelo High School, and specifically, the Golden Wave defense, was a dominant storyline. Itawamba picked up four Wave defenders in lineman Alyjiawaon Johnson, linebacker Ashton Wedel, and Quinn Tiggs and Antonio Clifton in the secondary.
On offense, the Indians bagged three quarterbacks – Jesse Hosket (French Camp), Kwadra Griggs (Greenwood) and D’Andre Belton from South Carolina.
“I felt really good about the outside receivers we had coming back, but we had to replenish our offensive line,” Williams said. “On defense, I felt pretty good about the nucleus of our returning secondary, and we signed some guys that can step in.”
Northeast also finished with a 4-2 mark in the division, but is looking to improve on its 4-5 overall effort.
“I’m very proud of the job the coaches did,” said head coach Ricky Smither, whose staff was short two coaches for much of the process. “We brought in five or six wide receivers over 6-foot-3, and we were proud to get those guys.
“On defense, we were looking to fill in with DB’s and up front guys. I’m really proud of what we got.”
The Tigers hit the out-of-state ranks with quarterback Cory Dixon and running back Malcolm Johnson, both from Georgia, and defensive end Traevon Sharp from Florida.
Northeast also grabbed three South Panola defensive players – Gabriel Lloyd, Javon Norris, and Brady Smith.