Tupelo eager to rebound

BY GENE PHELPS
Daily Journal

Chris Bell sat in the coach's office Monday before practice, Tupelo's first since Friday's disappointing overtime loss to Madison Central.

The Golden Wave's senior offensive lineman didn't want to talk about his team's 24-21 loss or the nine tackles behind the line quarterback Chris Garrett suffered, but he did.

“We had a terrible game,” he said, tinkering with an assistant coach's computer. “We got so flustered at the beginning of the game. One sack turns into two sacks … our goal is to play a lot better this week.”

Bell and his teammates get a chance to bounce back this week with a fresh start – the opening of Division 1-5A play – when Columbus (1-3) comes calling on Tupelo (3-1), the Daily Journal's top-ranked large school.

Wave coach Eric Collins and his staff have put in some changes this week to hopefully avoid his team's struggle on the offensive front last week.

“We did get whipped up front and we had some breakdowns,” he said. “We've made some adjustments that will work.

“It's good to play a team like (Madison Central). It exposes your weaknesses. Shame on us if we don't get it fixed.”

When Garrett was able to throw, he completed 9-of-22 for 130 yards and one TD.

Wave wide receiver/kick returner Chad Bumphis, even though he played with a nagging ankle injury, had another huge night. He caught the 40-yard TD strike from Garrett, threw one of his own for 64 yards and six to Garrian Heard, and returned a kick 92 yards for a score.

'Big-play people'
Columbus first-year coach Bubba Davis knows his defense could be in for a long night.

“They have the big-play people,” he said. “We're young. We don't need to see somebody who can throw the ball like they do.

“We're teaching and learning, but we can't simulate in practice what Tupelo does offensively. It's tough to prepare for somebody like them.”

Despite the fact that Madison Central scored its three touchdowns on passes, Collins was pleased with his defense's overall play.

“We played great until late in the fourth quarter,” he said.

Linebacker Ro Hogan paced with Wave with 10 tackles. He has a team-high 19 for the season.

Columbus beat Greenville Weston, 28-0, for its first win last weekend.

“They'll be a different team,” Collins noted. “They'll have confidence because we got beat.”

He added, “Our kids are going to put the Madison Central game behind them. I know we'll come out and play well Friday.”