By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
SALTILLO – Tupelo High School is celebrating 100 years as a functioning institution. Saltillo High School has been playing football for 50 years.
And never have the two had occasion to meet in an official football game – until today.
In one of the more surreal yet logical matchups on the 2013 football calendar, the Tupelo Golden Wave (3-0) will visit the Saltillo Tigers (3-0) for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
“I’m sure they’re looking forward to playing us,” Tupelo coach Trent Hammond said.
“On the one hand, this is a non-division football game that is getting us ready for division play,” Saltillo coach Pat Byrd said. “In reality, it’s more than that.
“This can be a statement game, but it’s up to us not to make it a circus. We need to make it a 48-minute game,” Byrd said.
Getting past the off-the-field distractions, both head coaches feel their squad is the underdog going into the contest.
“They have all the advantages,” Byrd said.
“We’ve played pretty good football so far, but going into this, we have to be the underdog,” Hammond said. “They made the playoffs last year. Their coach has been in place four years.
“We’re not going to be the biggest team when we play, and there is a major size difference between us and Saltillo.”
Tupelo is coming off a 47-0 victory against Shannon. In that game, senior running back Quinn Tiggs rushed for 137 yards and sophomore quarterback Daniel Bristow completed 12 of 15 passes.
“Tiggs touched the ball seven times and had over 170 yards, while Bristow did a good job managing the game,” Hammond said. “Overall, I thought our defense played well, and (junior linebacker) Justin Clifton made play after play, after play.”
Saltillo’s schedule already includes a 41-0 victory against Pontotoc, while the Tigers are fresh off a 27-14 win against Itawamba AHS. Junior running back Diamante Pounds has more than contributed his share of yards in the three Saltillo games, amassing 651 yards thus far.
“He’s not a speed back, but he knows how to run,” Byrd said. “There are 18 kids that were here when I became coach. Hopefully, they get to see a bit of reward for all the hard work they’ve put in.”