By Brandon Speck
Tupelo’s defense left no doubt Friday among its skeptics.
The Golden Wave had allowed only five touchdowns in six games leading up to Friday’s 14-8 loss at kingpin and reigning 6A champ South Panola (8-1, 4-0).
“I think our defense proved that, hey, they’re a pretty good defense, too,” Tupelo coach Trent Hammond said. “You hear a lot of people say, ‘Oh, Tupelo’s defense is not that good. They haven’t played anybody.’ I think tonight, we lost, but we played a pretty good defensive football game. Just came up short to a heck of a football team.”
No. 2 Large School Tupelo (7-1, 3-1), playing without injured nose guard Alyjiawon Johnson, forced South Panola (8-1, 4-0) into two fumbles, one in the end zone.
Tupelo’s three Division 1-6A opponents are 16-10 and the Wave handed Grenada its only loss. Tupelo also held Saltillo running back Diamante Pounds to his lowest output of the season – 48 yards. Pounds is the state’s second-leading rusher with 1,477 yards.
Tupelo defensive coordinator Lamar Aldridge doesn’t seem to be paying too much attention to outside chatter.
“I don’t know about all that,” Aldridge said. “Grenada is good. Southaven can throw the crap out of the football. Our schedule’s fine. Our kids play together and play hard.”
Decisive week ahead
In Class 1A, the Journal’s No. 3 and 4 Small Schools face off in a key Division 1-1A game with Falkner traveling to Smithville. Falkner will follow a week later with what could be a division-determining Halloween matchup against Coffeeville.
Coffeeville has already beaten Smithville. Coffeeville and Falkner are both 5-0 in the division. Smithville is 4-1.
Ripley, coming off its first loss, hosts Byhalia in a game that could determine a home game in the first round of the playoffs. The Journal’s No. 2 Tigers lost their top spot to Corinth in 4A/3A this week and share a 2-1 division record with the Indians in 2-4A.
In Class 2A, Baldwyn goes to Walnut, the Journal’s top two Small Schools with a chance to clinch the top seed from 1-2A.