With a new head coach, the transition within the North Pontotoc High football program has been … perfect.
With J.J. Plummer taking over for Cliff Dew, who left for a job in Kentucky, the Vikings are off to a 5-0 start with their offense clicking on all cylinders. North Pontotoc was averaging more than 450 yards per game in its first three games and is averaging 30.6 points per game through five contests.
“We’re seeing some production not only from the spread, but from the short-game package as well,” Plummer said.
Plummer credits offensive coordinator Joe Waller, a holdover from Dew’s staff, with the success the North Pontotoc offense has had this season.
“He does a good job of running the spread offense. Really, the new thing that I brought in was a short-game package, a wishbone set when we need short yardage,” said Plummer, whose team is 6 for 6 on scoring touchdowns in the red zone out of that package.
The North Pontotoc defense has done a pretty good job, too, holding opponents to around 150 yards per game.
As far as the Vikings’ chances go for continued great success the rest of the way, the odds are certainly stacked against them. Their move up to Class 4A from Class 3A this season has found them playing in a division that features two of the best large schools in the area, Itawamba AHS and Shannon.
“We got the tough part of our schedule coming up,” Plummer said. “I think stepping up to Division 1-4A is going to be a tough road.
“Our main thing is to try to compete and stay in every ballgame, and hopefully come up with wins.”
After an open date this week, North Pontotoc opens up division play at home next Friday versus Itawamba.
“Itawamba may be the best high school team I’ve seen on film,” said Plummer, who spent the past five seasons as a Hinds Community College assistant. “I think they can play with South Panola, Oak Grove and Meridian.
“They looked extremely well, a lot better than I thought they would. They look like a junior college football team.”
The high praise for the Itawamba team doesn’t stop there for Plummer, who is a big admirer of the Indians’ quarterback, Maikhail Miller.
“I got seven years of experience coaching high school football, and this will be the best high school quarterback I will have faced,” Plummer said. “There’s no doubt he’s a SEC, Division I-type quarterback.
“I saw on film where he was near his own end zone and he threw the ball off-balance and on the run 70 yards for a touchdown.
“He’s got all the mechanics to be a SEC, Division I-type quarterback.”
– Just two years ago, Belmont was a one-win team. Fast forward to this year and the Cardinals have won their first four ballgames entering this week’s matchup with Red Bay, Ala.
“We’re pretty much a junior- and senior-laden ballclub,” said Belmont head coach Kerry Moody. “Most of these kids have been with us for the earlier years. They stuck with it.”
Belmont is averaging 42.5 points per game this season, while holding opponents to just over nine points per game.
“We have a good combination of big guys and skill players this year,” Moody said. “We basically have an upperclassmen offensive line.
“Those guys up front have been instrumental in moving the football.”
While things are looking good at the moment, next month’s division games will be a tough challenge for the Cardinals, who moved up to Class 3A from Class 2A this offseason.
“The division is tough,” Moody said of Division 1-3A. “Booneville, Ripley and Corinth are very proven football teams.
“It’s a new era for us.”
BMC in the running
– Blue Mountain College will host its first on-campus cross country meet Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. on the school’s new five-kilometer trail.
BMC coach Fred Smith says 18 high schools have entered the meet. “Some of the best runners in the state are in our area and we’re excited to have them on our campus,” he said.
The schools signed up are H.W. Byers, Myrtle, Potts Camp, Ingomar, East Union, New Site, Alcorn Central, Corinth, Mooreville, Nettleton, South Pontotoc, Ripley, Houston, Lafayette County, Pontotoc, Tishomingo County, Oxford and Saltillo.
The meet steps off with the junior high girls, followed in half-hour intervals by the junior high boys, high school girls and high school boys. A one-mile fun run for runners in the sixth grade and under will be held at the conclusion of the varsity boys race.
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John Wilbert and Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal