By Brandon Speck
Calhoun City went through one gauntlet, just to set itself up for another.
The Wildcats – already in a division beating each other up – chose six tough non-division games, and are now playing the four they have to.
“I can’t speak for the rest of them, but our non-division games beat us up,” Calhoun City coach Perry Liles said, then laughed. “Even though they are very difficult, good quality 2A teams, physically when you play Ripley, Pontotoc, North Panola, Water Valley and Houston, you sort of get that physical part done.”
The Wildcats opened the season with a 39-point win at Coffeeville, a 1A contender.
The schedule prepared the Wildcats for one of the state’s toughest divisions. Division 4-2A features five teams deserving of the four playoff spots. Calhoun City (5-3, 2-0) is in charge right now, with games left against Eupora on Friday and at Okolona.
“There’s not a big difference in the five teams,” Liles said. “It’s basically who plays hard that night.”
Liles said last week’s bye was the chance his team needed to get healthy and ready for Eupora. The Eagles, Bruce and Okolona each have one loss. East Webster is 0-3 in the division after starting 6-0.
Junior quarterback Chakel Gates has thrown for 924 yards, rushed for 634 and has accounted for 13 touchdowns.
Backs Cartin Mcbride and Lavarious Varnado have added another 801 yards and 13 touchdowns. Varnado also has five receiving scores.
Defensively, linebackers Shaquille Wright and junior linebacker Steele Liles are the top two tacklers. Seniors Varnado, a safety, and Mcbride, a linebacker, may be two of the state’s best two-way players.
Mcbride had a huge game two weeks ago in a 42-31 win at East Webster. He rushed for 222 yards and three touchdowns and had eight tackles – seven solo.
“We’re in control of our own destiny. We just need to win the next two and win it that way” Liles said.