By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Shumpert’s back; Hobson’s gone. Welcome to Tupelo High School’s football season.
First, tailback Ashton Shumpert, a 1,300-yard rusher last season, misses four games with a leg injury. Next, starting quarterback Luke Hobson suffers what could be a season-ending ankle injury in last week’s 24-23 Division 1-6A loss at Columbus, which also happened to be Shumpert’s first game back.
“We get Ashton back, then we lose Luke,” Tupelo coach David Bradberry said. “Luke’s been trying to hold it together for us.
“We lost a lot of leadership and experience when we lost Luke.”
In the Golden Wave’s first five games, Hobson completed 37 of 79 passes for 596 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 119 yards and a score.
Hobson was replaced by inexperienced junior Thomas Harris last week. Look for Shumpert to figure at quarterback, too.
Shumpert, who had 139 yards rushing and receiving against Columbus in his return, will certainly need some help when Tupelo (2-3, 0-1) hosts Grenada (4-1, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. today.
This is Tupelo’s first home game since its Aug. 19 season opener against Lafayette.
“Ashton played hard and did a lot of good things (against Columbus),” Bradberry said. “However, his stamina is not where it ought to be.
“As he gets stronger, everybody has to step up and get better.”
Bradberry blamed himself for last week’s loss, saying he didn’t do a good job preparing his team.
“It was the same ol’ stuff, not any one thing,” he said. “Our defense played good in spots. Our offense has got to hold onto the ball and score. We had been doing well on kickoffs, but last week we gave up two big returns.
“A team has to be hitting on all cylinders to win games.”
Columbus returned a kickoff to midfield to kickstart it’s game-winning drive.
Grenada, coached by former Itawamba AHS coach Ashley Kuhn, has had success with the option. Quarterback Payne Horan and running back Devin Howard are the keys.
Horan has passed for 656 yards and nine touchdowns, and rushed for 341 yards and four scores. Howard has rushed for 332 yards and three TDs.
“They run the option out of a pistol formation,” Bradberry said. “They will be hard to defend. They are totally balanced and can attack you equally from either side.”