Notes, numbers and sidelights from Week 9 (Week 10 for academies):
• Itawamba AHS had best guard against the proverbial letdown. Coming off a huge win over Shannon on Friday, the Indians must next face a red-hot Pontotoc squad. Of course, this game means nothing for IAHS as far as the Region 1-4A standings – the title is in hand. But it’ll mean a lot to Pontotoc, which has won four straight and is averaging 38.3 ppg over the last three weeks.
The Warriors (6-3, 3-2) need a win to assure themselves a playoff berth. The only way they miss out is if they and Tishomingo County (6-3, 3-2) both lose. That would put Tish and New Albany (3-6, 3-3) in the playoffs based on a points tie-breaker: Tishomingo beat Pontotoc 12-7; Pontotoc beat New Albany 29-26; New Albany beat Tishomingo 28-24. So Pontotoc is minus-2, while Tish and New Albany are both plus-1. However, if Pontotoc loses and Tish wins, Pontotoc’s in based on its win over New Albany. Got it?
• Starkville suddenly finds itself in the race for the Region 1-5A crown with a 14-7 upset of Olive Branch. Now the Yellowjackets have the joyous task of traveling to Batesville to take on first-place South Panola, which is going for 70 straight.
“This was a win against a big-time program, and now we are going to play for the top spot in the region,” coach Bill Lee said Friday. “Our goal is to win the region championship, and now we can go and fight for it next week.”
• This Friday’s game between Ripley and Booneville will decide the Region 1-3A title. It’ll be a heavyweight battle – and that’s just the coaches.
Ripley’s Mac McCurry – 201 career wins – will square off against Booneville’s Jim Drewry – 327 (state’s all-time record). McCurry, in his 21st season as a head coach, has won 14 division championships, was Tennessee Coach of the Year in 1988, and is 30-5 at Ripley. Drewry, in his 43rd year as a head coach, owns who knows how many division titles (I’ve got that info somewhere) and has won three state championships. McCurry is still seeking state title No. 1.
• Five area teams could make the playoffs despite losing records: Amory (3-6), Hamilton (4-4), Houston (2-7), Mantachie (4-5), and New Albany (3-6). Mantachie and Hamilton play each other this week, but both are already in.