Vikings, Devils vying for top spot in 1-3A

Thomas Wells | Daily Journal Jack Simpson leads Booneville against North Pontotoc tonight.

Thomas Wells | Daily Journal
Jack Simpson leads Booneville against North Pontotoc tonight.

By Brandon Speck

Daily Journal

Coaches are required to take a one-game-at-a-time approach, but tonight’s game in Booneville, through non-coaching eyes, is the one to win in Division 1-3A.

North Pontotoc goes to No. 4 Booneville (5-1) in both teams’ second division game of the season. Each started division play with wins.

“All division games are important. It just so happens that Booneville is this week,” said North Pontotoc coach Brian Sutton. “We’ve approached this week and that’s all we’ve talked about. It’s not the most important, but it is the most important this week because that’s who we’re playing.”

Sutton’s Vikings (4-3) have a bevy of weapons, including wide receiver Marcus Green, a Louisiana-Monroe commit who has tallied 21 catches for 410 yards and four touchdowns. But three other receivers also have double-digit catches from quarterback Trey Jolly and four players have at least two receiving touchdowns – led by Brooks Shannon’s 287 yards on 12 catches.

Jeremy Wilkes has 461 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

“Marcus is a big name kid we’ve got. He’s a very important part of our football team. But I think we’ve had a lot of guys step up this year and took some pressure of off him,” Sutton said. “We’re just going to see what they give us.”

Green also has five rushing scores and 356 yards on 28 touches.

“Anytime you have a D-I athlete on the other side of the ball, you have to account for him,” Booneville quarterback Jack Simpson said. “They’ve got a lot of athletes, a lot speed, a lot of size.”

Defense steps up

Booneville is riding a three-game win streak behind improved play from Simpson and a defense that hasn’t allowed a point in five quarters. Junior defensive back Ben McCutchen leads the Blue Devils with nearly 10 tackles per game.

Booneville boasts a backfield full, as well. Five Blue Devils have more than 30 carries and have combined to rush for 19 touchdowns. Zeus Rogers’ 496 yards and eight scores leads the way.

“You definitely have to be aware of the playmakers, know where Marcus is at all times,” Simpson said. “Offensively, we’ve just got to execute.”

brandon.speck@journalinc.com