By Brandon Speck
Itawamba AHS showed flashes of brilliance on Friday night, but flashes of not-so-brilliant, too.
That’s fine with Indians coach Toby Collums, as long as his team continues to improve.
“We’re running to the football better on defense. Offensively, we’re getting better there. We’re so close to making those key blocks that will spring a running back,” Collums said.
Itawamba dropped to 1-2 with a 27-14 loss against the Saltillo Tigers, but had plenty of chances. The Indians lost two turnovers on downs near the Saltillo goal, trailing by six in the fourth quarter.
Saltillo made some plays, but Itawamba also made some mistakes.
“Missed assignments, we’re jumping offsides. We got a motion penalty. Those are the kind of mistakes you can’t afford to make in games like this,” Collums said. “It comes back to having some inexperienced guys and they’re going to learn from this and continue to get better.”
Itawamba lost a lot of production from last season – backs Charles Moore and Ashton Shumpert, combined for more than 3,100 yards and 47 touchdowns in a 12-1 season. Quarterback Tyler Dossett graduated, as did the top three tacklers.
Collums took his seniors aside after the team chat Friday night. There is youth, but promising youth. Sophomore Hunter White has been a do-it-all. He had a game-winning touchdown in a Week 2 win against New Albany and made the plays when the Indians needed them on offense for much of the night Friday.
His quarterback is a sophomore, Vijay Miller. Peyton Green and Mike King are returning seniors at receiver. Green had a key catch to set up White’s touchdown two weeks ago.
Collums said his team has come a long way since a 31-point loss to the Journal’s top-ranked Class 4A/3A school, Ripley, on opening night.
“Love my kids and I know they’re going to come back Monday and fix those mistakes,” Collums said, “and we’re going to continue to get better as a football team.”