I’ve gathered up most of the area teams’ football schedules, with the exceptions of Holly Springs and Starkville. Here’s a PDF version (along with some college schedules). Hope you can read that; if not, you can find them in Sunday’s Journal.
So after combing through the schedules, I came up with 29 games to watch, games that kind of stood out at first glance. Enjoy.
Aug. 28 (Thursday)
• Booneville at Baldwyn: Features two of the area’s top backs, Booneville’s Bo Brown and Baldwyn’s Xzadrian Shelley.
• Calhoun City at Vardaman: A traditional clash between two Division 1-1A frontrunners. Let’s see what new Vardaman QB Gene Ruth can do against an always-tough defense.
• Madison Central at Lafayette Co.: Bobby Hall’s boys, who made great strides during 2007, offer a stiff opening opponent for one of the area’s top 4A squads.
• Ripley at New Albany: Always a good game. New Albany’s first-time head coach, Ron Price, matches wits against proven winner Mac McCurry.
• Shannon at West Point: Man, what an opening weekend. This has turned into a fine rivalry in recent years.
Sept. 4 (Thursday)
• Vardaman at Bruce: Calhoun county foes tangle, and Bruce seeks revenge for last year’s upset loss.
• Lafayette Co. at Shannon: Another tough one for the visiting Commodores, who seek revenge for a 21-14 first-round playoff loss last season.
• New Albany at Baldwyn: These teams about broke the scoreboard last season in Baldwyn’s 54-44 win.
• Tishomingo Co. at Corinth: Highway 72 rivals get a good early litmus test. Both should be good this year (especially Corinth).
• Pontotoc at Ripley: This is Charlie Dampeer’s second year at Pontotoc, which means the Warriors should be a contender in Division 1-4A. Ripley offers a stout 3A challenge.
• Starkville at West Point: Always a dog fight, and it’s even more fun when played in the mud.
• Winona at Aberdeen: I don’t know (yet) what Winona’s got back this year, but the winner should be considered Louisville’s top challenger in 2-3A.
• Baldwyn at Bruce: This was a classic triple-overtime thriller last year, with Bruce winning in a non-division 2A game.
• Corinth at Booneville: The 1-3A opener for both teams, and it could be the de facto division title game (Ripley will have a say, of course).
• Lafayette Co. at Oxford: Too bad they couldn’t play it on the final weekend, but that won’t diminish the Crosstown Classic’s luster.
• Calhoun City at East Webster: Two 1-1A favorites square off. East Webster easily won the division last year en route to the North championship game.
• Ripley at Corinth: This too could be the de facto 1-3A title game. It’s again up for grabs this year.
• East Webster at Vardaman: Another big 1-1A showdown. Look out for the Rams this year, even with a new coach (Justin Hollis).
• Tupelo at Starkville: For some reason, Starkville is a mystery to me every year. We know Tupelo is supposed to be good, and this is a good time to show how good.
• Clarksdale at Lafayette Co.: I’m pretty high on Lafayette this year, and Clarksdale is always good. But the Wildcats lost some really good players.
• West Point at Kosciusko: West Point won a 17-14 decision in the 2007 regular season, but Kosy got payback in the 4A playoffs (42-28).
• Aberdeen at Louisville: I thought the Bulldogs could give Louisville a run last year – they didn’t (41-7).
• South Panola at Tupelo: Is this the year Tupelo – somebody – finally gets over the hump against South Panola (75 and counting). I’ll believe it when I see it.
• Bruce at Eupora: This game should decide the 2-2A race. It did last year, when Eupora won 16-7.
• Shannon at Itawamba AHS: I wonder how polished the team’s respective quarterbacks will be in this 1-4A matchup. Maikhail Miller, a sophomore, has no varsity experience for IAHS. Alex Thornton, who will probably win the Shannon job, proved a capable backup the past two years.
• Amory at Aberdeen: The A-Game could have playoff seed implications. It always has pride implications.
• Booneville at Ripley: And this could be the de facto 1-3A title game.
• Itawamba AHS at Pontotoc: Pontotoc will probably have a chance to A) knock IAHS out of the top spot and B) improve its own seeding.
• Tupelo at Olive Branch: This game could be especially huge if one of these teams has beaten South Panola.
• Playoffs: They begin for Classes 2A, 3A and 4A, as well as academies.