By Brandon Speck
North Pontotoc saw one of the state’s best running backs on Saturday in the Oxford Jamboree – Saltillo’s Diamante Pounds.
That didn’t count. But when the Vikings host Bruce, the Journal’s No. 3 small school, on Friday to open the 2014 regular season, it’s on the record, and they’ll see one of the state’s best receivers in Ole Miss commit Jay Johnson.
North Pontotoc head coach Brian Sutton watched Bruce film at 6 a.m. Saturday, four hours before his team faced Saltillo at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“Our road doesn’t get any easier. We’ve got a pretty tough row to hoe before we get to division,” Sutton said.
Throwing to Johnson will be a familiar face. Former rival South Pontotoc QB Wesley Ross transferred to Bruce.
North lost 14-7 to Saltillo. New quarterback Caleb Nelson threw for 176 yards on 12-of-20 passing, with a touchdown to Zay Cullens.
“Early, I thought we were moving the ball on offense, and I thought our defense was playing great,” Sutton said. “We can’t miss assignments on defense and we can’t have turnovers and penalties on offense. I think we got a little tired.”
Keep an eye on
Oxford at Jackson Prep: The Chargers, the Journal’s No. 2 ranked large school, are No. 13 in the MaxPreps Preseason Top 25 Medium School rankings. Jackson Prep, which lost 32-20 last season in the season-opener at Oxford, is No. 21.
Tupelo at Lafayette: Tupelo is the Journal’s No. 1 Large School in a battle of 2013 North winners.
Ripley at Itawamba AHS: It’s a top five showdown with Ripley No. 1 and IAHS No. 4. Ripley opened last season with a 45-14 win.