Running battle in 2A tonight

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Duke Upshaw is part of a stable of strong runners for Baldwyn.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Duke Upshaw is part of a stable of strong runners for Baldwyn.

By Brandon Speck

Daily Journal

Baldwyn and Calhoun City are like twins. But one will feel a lot prettier after the two meet tonight in Baldwyn for the MHSAA Class 2A North title.

“We both have really good skill guys, both have really good defenses,” Baldwyn coach Michael Gray said. “We know each other so well. It’s going to be one of those execution-type games.”

The teams are similar, especially on offense. Both run the ball a lot and really well. Both are streaking, nine straight wins for Baldwyn, seven for Calhoun City.

Calhoun City (10-3) runs for an average of 207 yards per game, Baldwyn 222. Both do it by committee. Baldwyn has four guys with at least 400 yards, led by a resurgent sophomore in Duke Upshaw.

Upshaw has rushed for 317 yards the past two weeks to go to 1,017 and 14 touchdowns in 10 games this season. He is averaging a whopping 9.97 yards per touch.

Baldwyn (11-3) junior Laquintez Upshaw leads in carries, 117 for 678 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“I have to agree. It’s very evenly matched,” Calhoun City coach Perry Liles said. “We have to tackle well. We haven’t faced that many running backs on the same team that are big and real good skill people.”

The two shared a division the last four seasons, Baldwyn breaking a three-game skid with a 15-14 win a year ago.

Calhoun City has two feature backs and a running quarterback. The quarterback, Chakel Gates, leads the Wildcats in rushing with 924 yards on 183 carries. Running back Lavarious Varnado has a team-high 18 touchdowns.

Solid Scott

Baldwyn’s quarterback, Corbin Scott, isn’t the rusher Gates is, but the senior has quietly put up a solid stat line – 1,776 yards and 25 touchdowns.

“He’s had some big throws in some key situations,” Gray said. “He’s knows he’s there to manage the game and is going to be called upon a few times to makes some big plays. The last couple weeks, he has made some big throws in key moments and they’ve made some really good catches.”

brandon.speck@journalinc.com