Second season begins tonight for tested Chieftains

By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal

A lot of coaches refer to tonight’s games as the beginning of the second season.
For Okolona, it might be refreshing to pick on and be picked on by someone its own size.
Division play opens for Classes 2A-4A tonight. The Chieftains (2-4) entertain Hatley (0-6) in Division 1-2A.
“When we compete against teams our size, we usually compete very well,” Okolona coach Calvin Aldridge said. “We’re going to be okay. We’ve got to get after it, though.”
Okolona didn’t back down from a gauntlet to open the season, four of its six non-division games against ranked teams in the Journal’s coverage area.
Three of those teams are among the best in Class 4A, Houston, Amory and Itawamba AHS. Okolona went 2-4, including a 61-14 win at 3A Nettleton.
Region of champions
“If there’s anything in the region like this, boy we’re in trouble,” Aldridge said, then laughed. “Bruce, Calhoun City and Baldwyn are awfully good. In this region, you’ve got four previous state champions.”
Baldwyn is at Calhoun City and Bruce hosts Walnut in the other two 1-2A games tonight.
Aberdeen began following a similar suit last season, opening with six tests before beginning Division 2-3A play.
The Bulldogs went 4-2 this season with wins against Shannon, Amory, West Bolivar and Louisville. Last season, Aberdeen won two of those first six.
Aldridge isn’t concerned about any effects of losing early games to larger competition.
“Motivation is out the door. If a firey speech is what motivates your kids, you’re going to lose a lot of ballgames,” he said. “A kid has to be self-motivated and that’s way before the season ever starts. Motivation comes from wanting to win and the will to win. It’s not just winning.”
Itawamba is at Corinth in a matchup of unbeatens in Division 1-4A, while defending North runner-up Amory is at Tishomingo County.
brandon.speck@jouranlinc.com