Teams must beat the heat on opening night



By Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

Weather – extremely hot weather – is likely to be a factor tonight when high school football kicks off in Northeast Mississippi.

“They’re talking about it being 96 (degrees) Friday,” said Itawamba AHS coach Toby Collums, whose team hosts Ripley at 7 p.m. in Fulton. “Conditioning will definitely play a role. At some point, depth plays a role.

“Both sides will be affected.”

Ripley coach Chad Cook believes conditioning will factor into the game’s outcome.

“You can throw the Xs and Os out,” he said.

“It all comes down to who’s standing in the fourth quarter, which kids have a little more gas in their tanks.”

On the field, Ripley starts a first-year quarterback in 6-foot-3, 237-pound Tucker Childers while Itawamba counters with an experienced quarterback in Vijay Miller.

“(Childers) has a lot of poise for a first-year quarterback,” said Collums, who watched Ripley’s scrimmage against Charleston. “He’s a load. He’s also a very accurate passer with a lot of weapons to throw to.”

That’s the message Cook has for his QB. “I’m telling him he’s got four or five guys to get the ball to,” he said.

Miller is a smaller, more elusive player who can run or throw.

“If he gets out of the pocket, he’ll make you pay,” Cook said. “He’s hard to defend when they’re playing well.”

Others to watch

Bruce at North Pontotoc: Bruce, the Journal’s No. 3 small school, has one of the state’s top playmakers in receiver Jay Johnson.

Oxford at Jackson Prep: The talented D.K. Metcalf-led Chargers, the Journal’s No. 2 large school, get a strong test in their road opener. Jackson Prep is coached by former Tupelo coach Ricky Black.

Tupelo at Lafayette: This is a battle of two state finalists from 2013. The Golden Wave, the area’s No. 1 large school, has a lot of newcomers starting on defense.

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