By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Ricky Smither just wants his Northeast Tigers to finish the 2011 football season strong.
A tough message for the Tigers to be digesting following a heartbreaking loss to Itawamba Community College last week in a key North Division matchup.
But the Tigers still have one more contest left in which to lace up their cleats and snap their helmets when they travel to Copiah-Linclon today for a 7 p.m. contest.
And just as important, the Tigers still have a shot at post-season play in Mississippi.
First, Northwest must defeat ICC. And although Northeast (6-2, 4-2) is playing a non-North Division contest, a tiebreaker in the state favors the school with the best overall record, thus a victory over Co-Lin is needed as the second part of the scenario.
“Not overlooking ICC, but Northwest is a very powerful team,” Smither said. “It’s a long-shot for us, but we’ve got to win.
“I just want to make sure we finish strong.”
In order to finish strong, Smither must make sure his Tigers have regrouped from last week’s setback.
“The kids were really down Friday,” Smither said. “I had a long talk with them, and each talked with them as well, and we had a better practice (Monday).
Against ICC, I felt our defense played well, only giving up one touchdown, and the rest we gave to them. Offensively, I felt wide receiver Tres Houston played a tremendous game.”
Looking to Co-Lin (4-4, 2-4), Smither can focus on the revenge factor a bit, having lost this same contest 19-14 last season.
“Co-Lin is always well coached, but I don’t think they’re as talented as last year,” Smither said. “It is going to be a battle.
“Offensively, we’re still trying to fit some pieces to the puzzle. We’ve spent a bunch of time on the offensive line, and spent a bunch of time on quarterback reads.”
With and ICC loss and Northeast win, the Tigers would be on the road next week in the first round of the playoffs against the No. 1 seed from the South. Hinds (7-1, 5-0) and Gulf Coast (7-1, 5-0) are tied for the top spot in the South, and play each other Saturday.