A Quintet of Questions

Itawamba AHS QB Bret Jefcoat

Even this late in the football season, most of are wondering just how good certain teams are. Five come to my mind: Bruce, Itawamba AHS, Smithville, Starkville, and Walnut. This Friday ought to tell us a whole lot about each of them.

Bruce (7-1, 3-0 Region 2-2A): The Trojans host Eupora (8-0, 3-0) in a game that will likely decide the region title. At season’s start, Bruce was a team that leaned heavily on its junior tailback, Richard Freelon, and a pretty good defense. Coach James Ray said the rest of his offense is finally coming around, and Eupora coach Junior Graham is impressed with that unit’s execution. I think Bruce is a 2A title contender, and this could very well be a preview of the North final.

Itawamba AHS (7-1, 4-0 Region 1-4A): The Indians have a mix of experience and youth – most of it quite talented – and a proven winner in coach Jamie Mitchell. But this is a program with little tradition, and it faces the tradition-rich Shannon Red Raiders (8-0, 4-0), the Daily Journal’s No. 1 large school, in a road game Friday. Shannon’s passing game hasn’t been slowed this year, and IAHS must get some bodies in the backfield to even have a chance. This will be a measuring stick for Shannon, too, which has had its share of cupcake games.

Starkville (5-3, 3-1 Region 1-5A): It looks like the Yellowjackets’ offense is starting to figure things out. After averaging 17.0 ppg over their first four games, coach Bill Lee’s squad is putting up 35.5 since. Starkville has won three of four, the lone loss a heart-breaking 38-35 setback to Tupelo. Starkville’s defense has been OK, but Olive Branch (7-1, 3-1) is averaging 38.6 ppg (although Horn Lake held the Quistors to 13 last week).

Smithville (6-2, 5-2 Region 1-1A): The Seminoles struggled to a 5-6 finish last year, coach Bubba Tacker’s first. He’s trying to restore the glory the program enjoyed for so long under Dwight Bowling. The losses this year were to first-place East Webster and second-place Okolona, so Smithville hasn’t beaten a quality opponent. This week’s game against Calhoun City (6-2, 6-2) should determine the No. 3 playoff seed.

Walnut (8-0, 3-0 Region 1-2A): The Wildcats should beat Hamilton (4-4, 2-1), but my question is, how badly? Baldwyn beat the Lions 31-0 last week, so this game should reveal something about Walnut, which will face Baldwyn on Nov. 2 with the region title on the line. Walnut has great athletes, like Gavin Luster and Jacob Sesma, but it’s tough to gauge how good they or the rest of the team are when their opponents’ combined record is 10-52 (.161; yikes).

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “A Quintet of Questions

  1. charleston11

    You have given IAHS no credit at all the entire season. If they beat Shannon, please leave them unranked.

  2. tcfan

    IAHS’s opponents record before the TC game 15-41, play Tupelo, Starkville, or West Point in place of Houston and Heidelburg if you think you should be poll worthy over those guys. Yeah, I know, I know, you beat Tish County, but we haven’t had the hardest schedule either.

  3. Charleston: In all fairness, Lafayette – the only team in the top 5 IAHS might be as good as or better than – has played a tougher schedule (opponents’ record: 34-27).

    I’ve got all the respect in the world for Itawamba; not surprised at all at what they’ve done. You do recall I had them ranked No. 5 in the preseason? Then they lost to Amory and haven’t had a chance to get back in the rankings.

    If they upset Shannon, you can bet your sweet boopy I’ll rank them. Not going to deprive them of what they deserve because of one fan’s curious bitterness.

  4. tcfan

    Brad, he has no reason to be mad. You’ve done a lot of stories on TC and I’m not trying to say that I was mad because I was actually happy to see this story, but the Itawamba/TC game of the week article was solely based on DeShawn McGaughey and Itawamba. I don’t know why you would be mad Charleston, a 7-1 record doesn’t justify a top 5 ranking in the WHOLE AREA when you’ve beaten 2 non division cupcakes and undefeated in the widely claimed weakest region of 4A, Region 1. I think the Journal has done a good job covering Itawamba and just because you’re mad because every Friday the front page sports doesn’t read “Itawamba vs. _____” doesn’t mean that he hasn’t done a good job covering Itawamba. Shannon’s defeated a quality opponent in the non-division, West Point. I’m sure if Itawamba would’ve defeated West Point, they would’ve been right in the mix for top 5. I’m pretty sure this weekend you won’t have to worry about IAHS breaking the top 5, pending a true upset.

  5. bamafan

    Hey TCfan, Tish was a cupcake too. At least Heidelberg was in the playoffs last year. Tish has had a couple good years and they think they’re a power. Itawamba won the old Tombigbee Conference title year after year in the sixties and seventies. For pete’s sake Itawamba had Ben Jones. This coach is in the Ms sports Hall of Fame. He even coached The IJC Indians to Juco State title. Anyway Itawamba beat West Point handily in the spring game this year. The teams were flat out going at it too. This team deserves to be ranked at least in the top 3 in the area.

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