Wave, Vikings brace for defensive battle

By David Wheeler

Special to the Journal

TUPELO – They are a pretty good defensive team. That statement could apply to either the Tupelo Golden Wave or the Warren Central Vikings.

Points could be hard to come by in today’s 7 p.m. MHSAA Class 6A first-round playoff game between the two defensive powers at Golden Wave Stadium.

HAMMOND

HAMMOND

“For fans of old-time football, this is going to be your type of game,” Tupelo head coach Trent Hammond said. “Both of our defenses make the other team look a bit awkward.

“Warren Central creates a ton of turnovers and our job will be don’t turn the ball over.”

As a team, Tupelo (10-1) enters this postseason contest allowing only 9.4 points per game on the strength of a speedy linebacking unit. Warren Central (8-3) counters by giving up only 11.5 points per game by trying to force teams up the middle.

“They try to funnel things to their middle three, the tackles and middle linebacker,” Hammond said. “Scheme-wise, they do things we haven’t seen. We’re going to be under-sized, but we have to be willing to match their effort.”

Strong ’backers

The core of Tupelo’s defense has been its linebackers, featuring James Gilleylen and Ashton Wedel on the inside, and Justin Clifton and Marcus Robinson on the outside.

Tupelo is paced on offense by running back Quinn Tiggs, with 1,542 yards of total offense.

Besides Warren Central, another factor for Hammond is the relative inexperience of Tupelo at this point on the calendar – this is the Wave’s first playoff game since 2010.

“I think this falls back to what we’ve tried to do all season by taking one game at a time,” Hammond said. “This is just another team on the schedule for us.”

From the first round of the 6A playoffs, each team must win three games to earn a berth in Jackson to play for a state title. The winner of the Tupelo-Warren Central contest will face the winner of Madison Central-DeSoto Central next week.