NEL ready for litmus
test with Jackson Aca.
Even when things went wrong Friday night for Northeast Lauderdale, the Trojans found a way to make it right.
However, first-year head coach Curt Blackburn is pretty sure he will get a better indication of where his team is after this week’s trip to perennial MAIS powerhouse Jackson Academy, the two-time defending MAIS Class AAA Division I state champions.
“They are on a 21-game winning streak,” Blackburn said. “They’re a very good team and we’ll just see where we are.”
The Trojans need that litmus test after acing its first exam with flying colors, defeating visiting Newton 45-7. Coming off 10 straight defeats to end last season, Northeast needed the confidence boost. But Blackburn said that desire may have backfired a little.
“It did get our confidence up, although now I have to watch our kids because they’re thinking they’re really good,” he added.
That happens sometimes when seemingly everything goes your way. In his first game as starting quarterback, Josh Everett teamed with brother Phillip to provide Northeast a two-headed backfield monster. Both players scored two touchdowns and rushed for more than 100 yards. It was exactly the type of brotherly performance Blackburn and the Trojans hoped for. Josh Everett was so good, in fact, he even bailed his coach out.
“Josh did a good job making his good reads,” Blackburn said. “Most of his runs weren’t designed quarterback runs, but were reads and he made some good decisions.
“I called a pass play one time and he faked it and ran it 28 yards for a touchdown.”
— Jamie Wachter
for unknown against NC
Southeast Lauderdale has an advantage on visiting Newton County on Friday night, but at the same time the Tigers are at a disadvantage.
On one hand, the inexperienced Tigers were able to get some growing pains out of the way in Friday’s 55-22 win against rival Clarkdale. But with Newton County having the first week off, the Cougars had the opportunity for an up-close look.
“Partial advantage in that our young guys have made some mistakes and some positive plays,” Southeast’s first-year head coach Charles Black said. “They have an advantage to get to see us in person.
“We know very little about them. We’re really just showing them a lot of different formations and making sure we can line up right.”
And what the Cougars’ coaching staff got a glimpse of was a pair of young phenoms shining at Chris Mabry Field. Sophomore running back Javaris Deloach rushed for 221 yards and 3 TDs. Meanwhile, sophomore wide receiver Damion Willis also scored three times, twice through the air and once on a kickoff.
“To tell you the truth, I know (Deloach) sticks out but Damion Willis, I was just as impressed with him,” Black added. “Those are guys that are young, but we did have some seniors step up.”
One area Black and the Tigers want to see some improvement is on the defensive side, where Southeast started to make strides in the second half after Clarkdale held its own for 24 minutes by utilizing its misdirection offense.
“We were standing around watching a little too much instead of reacting and hitting,” Black said.
— Jamie Wachter
Knights looking for improve versus Rockets
Stan McCain knows what to expect from Neshoba Central when the Rockets visit “The Kingdom” on Friday. As far his own West Lauderdale Knights, McCain is just hoping for improvement.
In his return as the West head coach, the Knights led perennial Class 3A power Forest at halftime last week before the Bearcats dominated the second half on the way to a 27-14 win.
“We're going to have to play better than we did last week,” McCain said of registering the first win of the season. “And hopefully we do just that.”
Part of that improvement comes on the offensive side of the ball where the Knights expected growing pains in switching from the Wing-T to a spread attack. Add in an inexperienced line – four first-year starters - and West did struggle at times against Forest. Quarterback Richard Thomas, though, did rush for both of West's touchdowns. But the Knights are hoping to reduce the burden on the senior that had to carry the ball 30 times.
“At times we were really good,” McCain said. “But our passing game was not where we need it to be. We can't run him that many times and expect him to last all season.”
Neshoba, which made the Class 5A playoffs last season, are led by senior running back O'Neal McCarty and quarterbackJoseph Willis.
“They are always big and physical,” McCain said. “Coach Friend and his staff do a great job with them. And they have a few playmakers in O'Neal McCarty, who is a good one, and the quarterback is about 6-4 and can throw it all over the field.”
— Jamie Wachter
Clarkdale looking to finish strong
Without much depth, a main concern for Clarkdale coach Chris Richmond is maintaining performance for four quarters.
That concern proved true Friday in the Bulldogs’ season opener as rival Southeast Lauderdale pulled away in the second half for a 55-22 win.
And fixing that issue has been high on Richmond’s agenda this week before Sebastopol visits Friday.
“That’s really what we’ve worked on and I’ve run them extra this week, is trying to get their legs to where we don’t get worn down,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we have our legs so we can finish a ballgame.”
While Clarkdale works to overcome a lack of depth, that is an issue the Bobcats struggle with as well. Richmond said Sebastopol, which fell 34-12 to Lake in its season opener, also has been forced to play a lot of guys on both sides of the ball. The Bobcats and Hornets were tied at 6 at halftime before Lake pulled away after the break.
“They’re a team a lot like us,” he said. “With their depth, they kind of got worn down and Lake pulled away.”
Leading the way for Sebastopol is quarterback Cody Shaw, who completed 9 of 16 passes for 155 yards and two TDs last week. Colton Tharp led the Bobcats with 46 yards rushing. Chris Williams also could provide a matchup problem as the 6-foot-4 wide receiver hauled in three passes for 45 yards and a TD.
In order to limit those Bobcats, though, Clarkdale also must get better defensively.
“We’ve got to do a better job pursuing and tackling,” Richmond said.
— Jamie Wachter
Russell looks to corral Clinton Christian
Week one's 48-6 beating over Christian Collegiate made a statement to the rest of Mississippi 8-man football –– Russell Christian will be a contender this year.
During the win, the Warriors saw production from all three of their talented quarterbacks, as Christian Collegiate had no answer to Russell's unmatched depth. Quarterbacks Walker Mosby, Jacob Howse and Kyle Russell all provided touchdowns as the Warriors showed off their unparallelled quarterback assault.
“It's great to have three different quarterbacks, and all three of them do three different things really well,” Russell Christian head coach Nate Ballard said. “It's definitely an advantage for us.”
Friday, the Warriors will need every bit of offense they can muster as they take on a Clinton Christian team that currently leads all of 8-man with 68 points fresh off of beating up on Victory Christian 68-42 last week.
Clinton Christian features a powerful running attack headlined by brothers John and James Myrick. The brothers accounted for 271 yards combined in the win against Victory Christian.
“They both run extremely hard and extremely young,” Ballard said. “We definitely respect their running game. In order for us to be successful we need to shut those two down, and that is going to be a tough task.”
Ballard said he knows a victory will not be an easy and said the game will be won by whichever team controls the line of scrimmage and wants it more.
“ We are expecting a war,” Ballard said. “We are expecting a great game and are preparing for such.”
— Tony Tsoukalas