Scores from Tuesday, Sept. 30

Softball
Nettleton 11, Mooreville 9
Falkner 13, Biggersville 12
Hamilton 9, Amory 1
Jumpertown 17, Blue Mountain 2
Wheeler 6, Thrasher 1
Tishomingo Co. 9, Corinth 1
Smithville 17, Caledonia 5
Booneville 20, Kossuth 14
Baldwyn 17-23, Okolona 0-1
East Union 16-17, Strayhorn 6-0
Saltillo 11-10, South Panola 8-6

Posted in Sports

18 Wheelers

Note – David Wheeler has been contributing to the high school coverage in Northeast Mississippi since 1985.

Hey people, I have not taken finger to keyboard like this in many pages of the calendar, but this 2014 high school football season is about to get interesting, and my interest is starting to peak because all divisions involving Northeast Mississippi teams will play a league game Friday.
And do not hold it against me if my math of off, there might not 18 items, I just like the phrase.
Class 4A
Just picking a starting point, both Divisions 1-4A and 2-4A have at least one game that will head perhaps the entire division to certain playoff scenarios. Kind of like a traffic cop directing traffic.
In 2-4A, Lafayette (2-4) at Ripley (4-2) will have a big impact. Lafayette is not as bad as its record, and the winner has the inside track on a first-round home playoff game. The other school that will have a piece to say about home-field advantage is Senatobia (4-1), which is at New Albany (0-6).
In 1-4A, all eyes should be on Amory (3-3) at Itawamba AHS (1-4). I feel the winner of this game will challenge Corinth (4-2) for the No. 1 spot in this division.
Corinth might not be a lock for a home playoff game, and is at Pontotoc (1-5), and Shannon (1-4) is at Tishomingo County (1-5). The winners of these two contests have a nice start toward a playoff spot.
Just to mention 4-4A, Houston (3-3) is at Caledonia (3-3). What kind of momentum can the Hilltoppers gain as they look to challenge Noxubee County (4-2), Leake Central (5-1), or Kosiusko (5-1)?
Class 3A
In 1-3A, how about a headliner right out of the blocks – North Pontotoc (5-1) at Kossuth (5-1)? Again, winner with big edge on one of two top spots.
I surely think Booneville (3-2) will challenge for one of those two first-round home games, and they host Alcorn Central (1-5), while Belmont (2-3) is at Mooreville (3-2).
In 4-3A, Louisville (2-4) is the defending state champion, but graduation losses brought them to mortal status.
The Nettleton (2-4) at Aberdeen (4-2) winner could start the shuffling in this division.
Class 2A
A spotlight should certainly be on 4-2A, and beaming specifically on Bruce (2-4) at Calhoun City (6-0). This could be the toughest small-school division in the state, and the what a great county (Calhoun) rivalry as well.
But do not forget about Okolona (2-3) at East Webster (6-1). Throw out the records in both of these matchups.
In 1-2A, would it be safe to say Baldwyn (5-1) is the favorite? Good teams not only win the games they are suppose to win, they score style points as well. Baldwyn is at Mantachie (3-3) this week.
Having mentioned all these good 2A teams, Walnut (5-1) should not be overlooked, and is at Hatley (3-3). New Site (4-2) is at East Union (3-2), with the winner perhaps on the road to the playoffs.
Class 1A
In 1-1A, Smithville (5-1, 3-0) gets a week off, resting in first place along with Coffeeville (5-1, 3-0), which is at Coldwater (1-4, 1-1).
Perhaps the best matchup in this division is Falkner (3-2, 2-0) at Thrasher (2-3, 1-2); and do not forget Hamilton (3-3, 1-1) at Houlka (1-4, 1-2). The winner of Vardaman (0-6, 0-3) at Biggersville (0-6, 0-3) might get back in the playoff hunt as well.
Class 5A
Moving to a bigger class, Oxford (4-1, 1-0) got a good leg up in 1-5A with its victory over West Point 43-22 last week. This week, Oxford hosts playoff hopeful Saltillo (5-1, 1-0). Win or lose, perhaps the key games down the road for Saltillo are against West Point and New Hope. Saltillo beat Lake Cormorant last week 51-35.
West Point (3-3, 0-1) looks to get on track at Clarksdale (2-3, 0-1), while the other key game to me is New Hope (5-0, 1-0) at Center Hill (4-2, 1-0).
Class 6A
Throughout the two North division of Class 6A, there were certainly some games last week that began weeding out some of the pretenders.
I picked Tupelo (5-0, 1-0) to go undefeated through the regular season before any kickoffs, and I stand by that.
Still, with a significant number of players who did not go through the battles of that great 2013 season (which I had the honor to watch every game), I was a little nervous for the Golden Wave in their first 1-6A game, which they handled 43-6 over Hernando (2-3, 0-1). Now I am nervous as Tupelo goes on the road after four straight home games against a team that will try to run through them – Grenada (5-1, 1-0).
Remember what a bus looks like?
Of note, if Tupelo continues with its winning ways, that Oct. 17 game hosting South Panola (yes, if Tupelo is undefeated during the regular season, I pick Tupelo to win this game) could approach 9,000-plus spectators, making it the largest home Tupelo crowd ever.
Also last week in 1-6A division-openers, South Panola over Horn Lake 63-26, Southaven over Olive Branch 40-21, and Grenada over DeSoto Central 28-7.
Down in 2-6A, perhaps the key game last week was Clinton (4-1, 1-0) with a 47-35 win over Madison Central. What about a Tupelo-Madison Central first-round pairing in the playoffs?
And that beast Starkville (5-0, 1-0) hit Columbus 43-0. Perhaps a team under the radar in this division is Murrah (6-0, 1-0), which is at Madison Central (3-2, 0-1) this week.
There is football before Ole Miss hosting Alabama, and Mississippi State hosting Texas A&M, so enjoy.

Posted in Sports

Week 7 Prep Rankings

Class 6A/5A

1. Starkville (5-0)

Friday: beat Columbus 43-0

Next week: at NW Rankin

2. Tupelo (5-0)

Friday: beat Hernando 43-6

Next week: at Grenada

3. Oxford (4-1)

Friday: beat West Point 43-22

Next week: Saltillo

Class 4A/3A

1. Aberdeen (4-2)

Friday: beat Corinth 42-7

Next week: Nettleton

2. Ripley (4-2)

Friday: beat Pontotoc 42-14

Next week: Lafayette

3. Corinth (4-2)

Friday: lost to Aberdeen 42-7

Next week: at Pontotoc

4. Kossuth (4-1)

Friday: beat Cherokee, Ala. 42-3

Next week: North Pontotoc

5. North Pontotoc (5-1)

Friday: beat New Albany 42-14

Next week: at Kossuth

Class 2A/1A

1. Calhoun City (6-0)

Friday: beat North Panola 54-6

Next week: Bruce

2. Baldwyn (5-1)

Friday: beat Tishomingo County 42-14

Next week: at Mantachie

3. Walnut (5-1)

Friday: beat Benton County 28-12

Next week: at Hatley

4. Hamilton (3-2)

Friday: Open date

Next week: at Houlka

5. Smithville (5-1)

Friday: beat Coldwater 28-0

Next week: Open date

Posted in Football

Scores from Saturday, Sept. 27

Softball
Corinth 12, North Pontotoc 1
Corinth 13, Houlka 5
Corinth 5, West Union 3
South Pontotoc 16-19, Tupelo 0-1
Amory 11, Itawamba AHS 2
Nettleton 8, Amory 5
Smithville 13 Itawamba AHS 12
Hamilton 12, Itawamba AHS 6
Smithville 21, Independence 5
Hamilton 10, Independence 3
Hamilton 11, Nettleton 9
Nettleton 6, Independence 0

Posted in Sports

EMCC QB Chad Kelly at Ole Miss today

@brandonspeck

Ole Miss is expecting a stead flow of recruits over the next two weeks, especially next week when the Rebels take on Alabama – in what will be a Top 10 matchup pending today’s result against Memphis.

One recruit who will be there today is East Mississippi sophomore quarterback Chad Kelly.

The nephew of former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, the Clemson transfer has thrown for 1,615 yards and 19 touchdowns for the nation’s No. 1 JUCO team, completing 66 percent of his passes.

“I’m taking a visit to Ole Miss this weekend, Tennessee probably next weekend, just keeping my options open,” Kelly said following Thursday’s 51-0 win at Itawamba.

His Ole Miss future could hinge heavily on the progression of Rebels’ freshman Ryan Buchanan.

Ole Miss obviously has the EMCC connection with Bo Wallace. Kelly (6-foot-3, 220), who played his high school ball at Buffalo’s St. Jospeh’s Collegiate, was a 2012 Under Armour All-American. He was released from Clemson after a handful of incidents. He has since apologized and gotten future blessing from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

He would have been a third-year sophomore for the Tigers, choosing them over the likes of Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State and Purdue. He played in five games after tearing his ACL in the 2013 spring game.

“When I was at Clemson I learned a lot,” Kelly said. “I learned a lot in the film room and reflecting it on the field. I see a lot of stuff that I never really thought of seeing in high school, which was really good that I was able to get that opportunity. And now I’m just trying to get back to where I was.”

Here is a video talk with Kelly.

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Posted in Football, Recruiting

Four (some rambling) Downs: Week 6

1. Calhoun City: Not Trippin

The Wildcats – 6-0 and the Journal’s top small school – beat the ever-loving crap out of North Panola, 54-6. North Panola is no slouch. Somebody has really irritated Calhoun City. Remember when everybody was handing Bassfield another title? I’d slow that role just a tad.

2. Aberdeen has flipped the switch.

The Bulldogs went from getting beat 64-8 by New Hope and Noxubee to scoring 99 points the last two weeks. Aberdeen beat No. 2 medium school Corinth 42-7 Friday, at Corinth. I’ve seen a lot of skilled Aberdeen teams, two that went to Class 3A championship games. This one may be the most talented skill spot to skill spot. And the offensive line has made tremendous strides in the non-division preseason. There are very few teams I’d pick to beat Aberdeen in the playoffs, Charleston among the handful. If this team keeps this pace, it’s going to be a fun division race among Kemper County and Louisville.

3. Oxford beat West Point

And it will against year. Not surprised. Moving on.

4. Saltillo has switched trigger men.

The Tigers have gone to sophomore Clayton Knight, who threw three touchdown passes in a division-opening win against Cormorant. Uh-oh, Tigers have a passing game AND Diamante Pounds. This week against Oxford may have gotten more interesting.

These are free …

Lafayette is the most dangerous 2-4 team in the state (stolen from @GenePhelps) … Amory beat Bruce 27-0. Panthers are a threat in 1-4A … I do believe Hatley  is going to make the playoffs for the first time ever, yes ever. I also believe Tigers can finished second in the division. No, I’m serious … Calhoun City hosts Bruce in the Skuna River Rivalry next week … Tupelo’s defense is stupid, stupid good. Starkville will beat everyone, but I’m not so sure Tupelo isn’t better than South Panola again. Defensively, I’ll take my chances … Friday’s Lafayette at Ripley game intrigues me.

Good night (err, morning)…

Posted in Football, Recruiting, Sports

Gene and Brandon’s Week 6 Picks

Gene (16-4) is ahead by a game entering Week 6.

Hernando at Tupelo

Gene: Tupelo; Brandon: Tupelo

Aberdeen at Corinth

Gene: Aberdeen; Brandon: Corinth

Hatley at TCPS

Gene: Hatley; Brandon: Hatley

New Albany at North Pontotoc

Gene: North Pontotoc; Brandon: North Pontotoc

Oxford at West Point

Gene: Oxford; Brandon: Oxford

Posted in Football

Why exactly do they call No. 4 Jerrick Orr, “Seven?”

@brandonspeck

Aberdeen is at Corinth tonight in a matchup that could get explosive. Corinth QB Antares Gwyn is having a great season – 707 passing yards, 12 TDs, 2 picks QB rating of 116.2; 327 rushing yards and 5 TDs.

Aberdeen QB Josh Williams has thrown for 697 yards, 7 TDs and 2 picks and has rushed for 339 yards and 7 TDs.

One of his targets looked to be getting into form against IAHS last week. Jerrick Orr caught three passes, all TDs. Here’s that story, a link to the game story and some video with teammate Tyreke Gates.

Gates also spills the beans on why they call Orr, “Seven.”

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Posted in Football, Recruiting

Where are tonight’s top-ranked teams?

Class 6A/5A

1. Starkville (4-0) at Starkville: Jackets new No. 5 team in MaxPreps South Region.

2. Tupelo (3-0) vs. Hernando: Division 1-6A opener.

3. Oxford: (3-1) at West Point: Division 1-5A opener pits two favorites.

Class 4A/3A

1. Booneville (3-1) vs. Harding Academy, Tenn.: Devils avoided a letdown at Tishomingo County following a win against Corinth.

2. Corinth (4-1) vs. Aberdeen: Hands down, the most appealing non-division game of the week.

3. Ripley (3-2) vs. Pontotoc: Tigers have lost two straight, both to contenders North Panola and Calhoun City.

4. Houston (3-2) at Eupora: Eupora is 5-0 and giving up 6 points per game.

5. Kossuth (4-1) Cherokee, Ala.: Aggies off to best start since 2011.

Class 2A/1A

1. Calhoun City (5-0): at North Panola: Wildcats have taken names all season. Another tough non-2A test.

2. Baldwyn (4-1) vs. Tishomingo County: Homecoming week following a weird, two-day loss at Saltillo.

3. Walnut (4-1) vs. Benton County: Wildcats struggled more than expected in a 12-0 win against South Pontotoc.

4. Hamilton (3-2) is off tonight: Following a home loss against Falkner in a big 1-1A game.

5. Smithville (4-1) vs. Coldwater: Seminoles can’t afford to look ahead to next week at Coffeeville.

Posted in Sports

Oxford at West Point in ginormous 1-5A game

@brandonspeck

No. 3 Oxford is at West Point tonight in a ginormous 1-5A opener. But don’t be so quick to hand the division title to the winner.

“There’s no pushover. We have one of the best regions top to bottom as anybody. There’s no break. You can get beat every Friday night by any of them,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. “Like Saltillo, they are a really good football team and Clarksdale is always going to be good … Lewisburg’s not bad. Their quarterback impressed me last year. Center Hill, their quarterback is very athletic. Throw New Hope in there. It’s a very balanced region and you’ve got to come to play. It helps us in the playoffs.”

New Hope is 4-0. Saltillo is 4-1.

“I knew last year everybody was getting better and had a lot of guys coming back,” West Point coach Chris Chambless said. “It’s a big week. Anytime West Point and Oxford have played the last eight or 10 years, it’s always had huge implications.”

Last year’s Oxford (3-1) win was the first in a long time, so long no one can tell you how long.

West Point was 1-2 after three games, but the two came against South Panola and Starkville, both 6A favorites. Chambless labels the 3-2 start, the preseason, now that there are seven division games to finish the season.

“We’ve had a very tough early preseason,” he said. “We’ve had a very tough go at it, but we wanted it that way.”

Oxford throws for 321 yards per game, led by junior QB Jack Abraham and junior receivers DK Metcalf, Zach Cousar and Kyree White. But it also rushes for 123 per. Junior, yes another junior, Kenzie Phillips rushes for 61 yards per game and has scored five touchdowns.

West Point, as usual, runs the football. But as Hill says, they do it effectively. They hit you hard and make tackles.

“Anytime you can do both, it helps,” Chambless said of Oxford’s offense. “Kenzie Phillips is a great running back and there are a couple more who spell him. Their wide receivers not only run good routes, but they also catch the football. When they’re not catching it, they’re getting after it blocking. Abraham, he is what he is. He runs a tight ship. He’s not going to make a lot of mistakes and when he does, it doesn’t bother him.

“We have a great leader under center in Dason Thomas. He never gets rattled and runs our offense well. Our defense has been getting after it.”

West Point has allowed only 14 points per game against the likes of Noxubee and South Panola.

Posted in Football, Recruiting

Scores from Thursday, Sept. 25

Softball
Booneville 18, Shannon 12
West Union 14, Hickory Flat 5
Smithville 15, Houlka 2
Hatley 23, Okolona 0
Amory 15, Tishomingo Co. 5
Corinth 9, Itawamba AHS
South Pontotoc 5, North Pontotoc 4
East Webster 16, Eupora 6

Posted in Sports

Video: Hamilton’s Heard last of the family

@brandonspeck

Talked last week with Hamilton junior Keshon Heard, who is shredding defenses for the Lions. It’s been a family affair. Here is the story, as well as some video with Keshon.

Story from today’s #DJournal

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Posted in Football, Recruiting

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