By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
No one has been able to stop Itawamba AHS. Only one team has been able to hand Amory a loss.
The two Class 4A contenders meet tonight in Amory with the winner locking up the Division 1-4A regular season title.
“We’ve got to be perfect to be able to beat them,” Amory coach Trent Hammond said. “They’re of course led by a Dandy Dozen (Ashton Shumpert), but they’ve got some great offensive linemen and great linebacker play.”
Last season, Itawamba held Amory’s high-flying offense to 20 points. The Panthers are still chucking it around with new quarterback Jon David Poss, but running more this season. They are averaging 230 yards passing and rushing per game.
“You can’t really go in with the same game plan because they’re not the same team,” IAHS coach Toby Collums said. “To me, they’re more dangerous this year, from the standpoint of they can run the football.”
Amory’s leading receiver Dario Robinson is alsothe team’s leading rusher with 683 yards and eight touchdowns on 74 carries. Devin McIntosh has emerged as the leading receiver with 712 yards and nine of Poss’ 19 touchdown passes.
Linebackers Hayden Williams and sophomore A.J. Devauld are leading the team in tackles.
But no one has been able to consistently tackle Itawamba’s Shumpert and Charles Moore.
“Defensively we’ve got to take advantage of any opportunity and we’ve got to be clean on our side,” Hammond said.
The duo has combined to rush for 1,997 yards and 30 touchdowns. Moore has 1,009 yards and Shumpert 988 after missing the first three games of the season. The Indians are rushing for more than 320 yards per game.
Defensively, Reginald White is averaging 8.4 tackles a game from his linebacker spot for Itawamba. Amory is allowing only 17.6 points a game while IAHS gives up just over 11.
“Our kids are excited to be able to play in a game of this magnitude and I’m sure their kids are too,” Collums said.
2-3A:Water Valley At Aberdeen
Division 2-3A will be decided tonight in Aberdeen, as the Bulldogs host Water Valley.
Water Valley won what is becoming a rivalry game, 20-14 a season ago. Both teams are considered top Class 3A contenders this season.
Aberdeen’s only two losses have come to 4A favorite Noxubee County and 6A Columbus. The Bulldogs (7-2, 3-0) have scored 52 points and allowed less than nine per in each of their three division wins.
“They’re very good, well-coached. They’re a lot bigger than us,” Aberdeen coach Mark Bray said. “They like to line up and run right at you and control the football. The big key for us is to slow them down.”
Water Valley is 8-1, 3-0 behind quarterback E.J. Bounds. Bounds has thrown for six touchdowns and rushed for nine more. He returned last week after missing three games with an ankle injury.
Aberdeen’s Josh Williams has passed for 1,296 yards and 17 touchdowns. Aaron McMillian has nine of those and 495 yards. Chico Harrison, who has a team-high 686 yards and has scored five touchdowns, returned last week after missing two games.