Tupelo Christian Preparatory School got a little taste of public school football this spring.
The main course comes in August.
TCPS athletics director and football coach Aubrey Boren believes his Eagles will be prepared for their new sports dining experience as members of the Mississippi High School Activities Association.
“Spring football practice went really well for us,” he said. “We played Falkner, which was very athletic and a great opponent for us. The game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, we were a little intimidated. In the second half, we began to believe we could compete.”
TCPS, which kicks off Aug. 21 in an MHSAA Classic Game at Mantachie, will play its first two seasons as an independent.
The Eagles’ schedule features 10 games and four homes dates, with a possible fifth home date to be determined. The school has set a game Oct. 9 against Resurrection Catholic, but a site has not been decided on.
TCPS’s home opener is scheduled for Sept. 4 against H.W. Byers. Three of the team’s first four games are on the road.
“It was a great challenge to schedule games,” Boren noted. “The public system had filled its quality dates with division games.”
To complete the Eagles’ schedule, Boren added two private schools – Greenville Christian and Heidelberg Academy.
“We play in a jamboree the week before the season,” he said. “It will be our first test to see where we are and where we’re going.”
The Eagles have only seven players back from last season’s team that finished 5-6 in Class A of the Mississippi Private School Association. Boren welcomed 28 players for spring practice, 11 more than dressed out for varsity football during the 2008 season.
The team’s offseason workouts have included weight training and 7-on-7 competition against Houlka, Mantachie, Mooreville and South Pontotoc.
“Our kids are learning about the speed of the game,” Boren said. “They’re growing up.”
Braxton Melancon, a senior, who played running back and wide receiver in the Eagles’ spread attack last fall, returns. He’ll be joined by senior center Hayes Collins and junior quarterback Will Cockrell, who was a backup last season.
Many of the new Eagles played for a ninth grade team that won its division last season.
“We had a very strong ninth-grade class who will be sophomores this year,” Boren said. “They’ll make a good football team if they continue to work hard.”
TCPS football schedule
21 – at Mantachie, 28 – at Wheeler
4 – H.W. Byers (H), 11 – at Greenville O’Bannon, 18 – Greenville Christian (H), 25 – at Heidelberg Academy
2 – Open, 9 – Resurrection Catholic (site TBA), 16 – at Coffeeville, 23 – New Site (H), 30 – Houlka (H)
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal