Unbeatens collide tonight in Shannon

Teams are well aware what Shannon running back Keon McGaughy can do with the football.
“You better do something with McGaughy,” said Amory head coach Pat Byrd. “He’s a very physical runner, and he can also be a speed guy.”
Byrd’s team held the Shannon back in check for most of the Sept. 18 contest, except, of course, for the two TDs he scored in Shannon’s 13-7 win in overtime.
The Panthers aren’t the only ones to limit the productivity of McGaughy and still lose to the Red Raiders this season.
“Our game plan was to stack them up or load them up in the box,” said Tishomingo County head coach Steve Carter, whose team lost two weeks ago at home to Shannon, 26-0. “We slowed down McGaughy enough to make them throw the football, and they beat us throwing the football.”
That proves Shannon isn’t one dimensional, doesn’t rely on only one player, and most important, why the Red Raiders are 7-0 (2-0 Division 1-4A) entering tonight’s division game at home versus Pontotoc, also 7-0 and 2-0 in the division.
“I don’t know if it’s more of trying to eliminate the run game or the (rainy/muddy) conditions,” Shannon head coach Chad Cook said about opposing defenses stacking the line of scrimmage. “I think it’s a combination of both.
“We will still throw it 16 to 20 times a game. We have to do that to be successful.”
Cook said his team has been successful running the ball even when teams consistently load the box against them. He says his ball carriers can still break the line of scrimmage and gain yards if the blockers can get that first level of the defense sealed.
“The offensive line did a good job of opening holes Friday night (against North Pontotoc),” Cook said.
Tonight’s opponent, Pontotoc, has a pretty good defensive line led by tackle Dimitri Hoover and nose guard Kelsey Traylor, and linebacker unit led by Blake Littlejohn and Jake Smithey.
“The first thing that stands out is their nose guard (Traylor),” Cook said. “He disrupts stuff in the backfield and down the line of scrimmage.
“Littlejohn does a good job off the line at his linebacker spot.”

Effective Warriors
Even though the Pontotoc defenders are not very big, says Pontotoc head coach Charlie Dampeer, they still manage to be successful in stopping the run.
“When you watch film, you don’t see too many people moving the ball on them and (Pontotoc’s defense) letting them score on them.”
However, dealing with McGaughy may be a whole other story for the Pontotoc defense.
“He’s the best player on the field every Friday night,” Dampeer said. “Nobody has been pretty effective in stopping him. You hope you can limit him some – he’s going to get some yards.
“He’s a big running back for high school football, a strong kid. You just have to tackle him well – and make sure you tackle him and bring him down.”

Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or john.wilbert@djournal.com

John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal