By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
The Tupelo Golden Wave football team will be involved in a grab bag of firsts on Friday.
Their contest at the Hernando Tigers will be the Division 1-6A opener for both teams.
This will be the first ever 1-6A game for Hernando and Tupelo head coach Trent Hammond.
And Hammond promises Hernando will be the most physical challenge thus far for the undefeated Wave.
“In my opinion, when it’s all said and done, it’s all about football,” said Hammond about his first 6A game as Tupelo head coach. “Granted, 6A has better players, but it doesn’t matter if it’s my first or 37th game. We have to have our kids prepared to play, and to play fast.”
Tupelo (4-0) is coming off a bye week, and went into its off week following a 29-10 victory over the Saltillo Tigers Sept. 13, the first ever meeting between the two schools in Lee County.
Special teams starred for Tupelo, with two blocked punts by linebacker James Gilleylen, and a kickoff return by Rodney McIntosh.
“That’s the first one I’ve ever had as a coach,” said Hammond of the Tupelo bye week. “I called other 6A coaches around the state, like Bobby Hall, and asked them what they did.
“Then I meshed it together for what was best for us.
“Against Saltillo, I think we wound up with over 350 total yard of offense, but we didn’t finish drives. The defense played at the same level as it has for four weeks, but on offense, we didn’t catch the ball.”
Tupelo’s defensive level of play could be sorely tested by Hernando (3-1), which is coming off a 34-29 loss to Lake Cormorant.
“They are big, big, big, with a capital B,” Hammond said. “And they walk the ball forward.
“The offense is going to have to do things to score points, and their offense is going to put pressure on the D-line and linebackers.”