By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
High school football playoffs are a week away for Classes 2A, 3A and 4A and some teams already know where they’ll land in the brackets.
With the future in place, they may get some needed rest for key players this week.
“If we can, we’ll get two quarters out of our starters, then sprinkle our younger ones in,” said Aberdeen coach Mark Bray, whose team visits South Pontotoc on Friday. “If we’re able to play our younger ones, we’ll for sure play them.”
Aberdeen clinched its division with Friday’s win against Water Valley and will host the four-seed from Division 3, either Palmer or Winona.
The Bulldogs have seen a tough schedule pay off in more than the win column. Aberdeen is 8-2 with non-division wins over West Bolivar, Louisville and Amory. That took all the manpower the Bulldogs had.
Their four division wins came by a combined 137 points and Bray was able to play more of his roster than he could early on.
No time to lose
Other teams, Booneville at Belmont and Walnut at Okolona among them, are still fighting for playoff position.
Booneville could go from first to third with a loss and have to open the playoffs on the road. The winner of the Walnut-Okolona game will get one of the four playoff spots from 1-2A.
Baldwyn has wrapped up a playoff spot and is a heavy favorite at Hatley on Thursday.
Coach Michael Gray said sophomore running back and defensive back Laquintez Upshaw will be one player the Bearcats rest. He rolled his ankle last week against Walnut.
South Pontotoc’s Cougars have already been eliminated from the playoffs. But Bray said he will only sit starters if his team has the game under control at the half.
Aberdeen has five players who wouldn’t mind a break as they start on both sides of the football. Fullback and linebacker Justin Lucas had 17 tackles Friday.
“This time of year, you want to go into the playoffs healthy if you can,” Bray said. “They’re worn down, especially the ones that stay on the field a long time.”