Walnut coach wants to regain bragging rights against Falkner

Tonight: Kickoff, 7 p.m.

BY BRANDON SPECK
DAILY JOURNAL

The Walnut Wildcats don’t want to hear it for another year.

Falkner has owned Tippah County bragging rights after handing Walnut a 33-point loss last season in the Joe Bowl.

The 12th annual Joe Bowl is scheduled to kick off tonight at 7 in Falkner.

“They kind of punched us in the mouth last year, gave us a good whipping,” said Walnut second-year coach John Meeks, a Walnut graduate.

“Last year is very fresh on our minds. We want a much better showing. Nobody wants to hear about it the entire year.”

The county grudge match was named in 2001 to honor Joe Horton, who coached at both schools and died as Walnut’s coach after the game in 2000. Horton won a state championship at Falkner in 1983.

Walnut had won nine straight in the series until last season.

“We didn’t realize the importance of that game until we won it last year, and I saw how important it was to those guys,” said first-year Falkner head coach Cory Armstrong.
holes to fill

For Walnut to take the trophy back to North Tippah, the Wildcats will have to fill some holes on each line.

The Wildcats gave up 384 yards in a loss at Booneville last week. Falkner junior Jeramie Lawrence had 180 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a 59-29 rout of Middleton, Tenn., already benefiting from an up-tempo Falkner plan.

“We’ve got to always know where he is. He’s a home run threat wherever he’s at,” Meeks said. “Booneville really dominated the line of scrimmage. Offensively, if you can’t get any push up front, it’s tough to do anything.”

Walnut did get a short touchdown run from Will Quinn.

The two coaches even have a rivalry background. Meeks played at Ole Miss, Armstrong at Mississippi State.

“It’s kind of their Egg Bowl,” Armstrong said. “I’m the biggest Mississippi State fan in the world. I’d rather go 1-10 and win the Egg Bowl sometimes. In these rivalries, you have to listen to it all year. They all eat in the same restaurants.”

brandon.speck@journalinc.com