The powers in their own classes collide tonight in Houston in the final non-division game for both.
Class 2A Bruce (4-1) is the Daily Journal’s top-ranked small school. Houston (5-0) is the No. 3 team in Class 3A/4A.
“This is what we kind of hoped when we laid the schedule out, get some confidence early and get tested before district to find out what we’ve got to work on,” said Bruce coach James Ray.
The last two games have been just that, a 17-16 loss against Class 3A contender Water Valley and a 26-13 win against a top 2A team Ackerman.
Ray wants to avoid turnovers that plagued them in those games.
The Class 4A Hilltoppers are off to a perfect start in a season where one goal is to win the school’s first playoff game.
Davis Brown, Bruce’s 6-foot-3 senior quarterback, has been a steady or the Trojans, completing 69 percent of his passes for 807 yards and 11 touchdowns with only two interceptions.
“We’ll have to try to slow down their passing game,” Houston coach William Cook said. “Bruce is real athletic. All these games lead to division and help get you ready. Brown throws it really well and their big, tall receivers are hard to deal with. It’s a big test.”
Six-footer Shaq Bush and 6-foot-3 Rashad Turner have hauled in a combined 25 catches for 594 yards and five touchdowns.
Houston doesn’t go to the air very much but quarterback Sharone Wright loves the ground. He has rushed for 601 yards and nine scores on 75 carries. Sophomore Brandon Townsend has another 358 yards and five TDs.
Houston defensive end Chris Jones, a Mississippi State commit, has 10.6 tackles per game with a pair of sacks and 16 hurries. Nose guard Deontray Smith has a team-high 56 tackles.
“We’ve got to control that defensive end and they have linebackers and a front four or five that’s really good. That will be a good test for us up front and their quarterback is pretty special,” Ray said. “We can’t let him run around.”