While New Albany High School will enter its season opener on Friday night feeling confident, its opponent will head into the contest with some uncertainty.
“You don’t know what to expect,” said first-year Booneville High head coach Mike Mattox, who replaces Mississippi’s winningest high school coach, Jim Drewry (346 victories). “For a lot of these kids, it’ll be the first time they stepped out on a football field (as varsity starters). We’ll have new starters at just about all positions.”
The Blue Devils, who lost in the MHSAA Class 3A semifinals last November, will host a New Albany team that has 21 seniors and defeated Tupelo 24-14 in a preseason jamboree game last weekend. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Tiger Stadium in Booneville.
“We’re very impressed with them,” said Mattox, a longtime assistant with the Blue Devils. “They just got through beating a 6A school (Tupelo) in two quarters, and we didn’t see any weaknesses.
“Of course, they got 21 seniors coming back and most of them played last year. They got a very impressive ballclub.”
In last year’s season opener for both teams, Ron Price’s New Albany club lost 41-34 to Booneville on their home field.
“It was an honor for me to get to coach against him,” Price said about coaching against Drewry’s Blue Devils. “He did me like he did other coaches: in beating us.
“His record will never be broken in the state of Mississippi. I know coach Mattox is excited about the opportunity to take over.”
Mattox said Drewry stopped by the Booneville football office Sunday to assist in developing a game plan for this week’s game.
“I grew up in Corinth. I went to Alcorn Central high school, and we played Booneville all four years in high school,” said Price, a 1997 Alcorn Central graduate. “Coach Mattox was actually coaching at Booneville when I was in high school.”
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The Daily Journal publishes its annual preseason high school football section in Friday’s newspaper. The Journal takes a look at every school in our coverage area, the top players and much, much more.
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal