Tupelo eager to get back to work, ‘step it up’

Gene Phelps | Buy at photos.djournal.com Tupelo senior defensive back Antonio Clifton enjoys his visit to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Gene Phelps | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Tupelo senior defensive back Antonio Clifton enjoys his visit to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

By David Wheeler

Special to the Journal

JACKSON – Standing in a main room of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame on Monday morning, Tupelo senior inside linebacker Ashton Wedel seemed to have a pretty good handle on the proceedings.

“It’s just an honor to be here, something kids are granted, and shows how hard we’ve been working,” Wedel said at the Gridiron Classic press conference. “But I’m ready to get back to practice.”

Wedel and three other team mates were part of the Golden Wave contingent on hand with all 12 teams playing this weekend in the MHSAA Football Championships. Tupelo is pitted against Oak Grove on Friday in the Class 6A championship game in a 7:30 p. m. kickoff.

Both teams are 13-1.

“There’s a lot of hype associated with this,” Tupelo coach Trent Hammond said. “Then on Friday, it’s still a football game.

“The trick will be keeping our minds on the game.”

The tricky matchup for the Wave will be facing the Oak Grove offense. That unit features quarterback Kirk McCarty, who has thrown for 3,782 yards, and four receivers each with more than 700 yards catching the ball.

“I think we’ve always been challenged this season,” Tupelo senior defensive back Antonio Clifton said. “This is all overwhelming, and it’s my very first press conference.

“But as soon as this is over, it’s back to practice. We’ve just got to step it up even more this week.”

While Oak Grove is scoring at a 40.3 points per game clip, the Tupelo defense has been raising more and more eyebrows as the team continued to win.

Tupelo is allowing only 9.9 points per game to its opponents.

“I’m excited about playing such a great defense as Tupelo,” McCarty said. “They seem to have no big holes, and just play hard.”