David Wheeler on High School Sports

After a couple of weeks of other classes grabbing the spotlight, this is the week for Class 3A to shine.
That begins tonight with Booneville vs. Ripley – the battle for the No. 1 spot in Division 1-3A.
Booneville’s schedule and losses to higher classified teams has perhaps put them under the radar in 3A. Don’t be fooled.
Ripley has just been plain under the radar, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Then Friday/tomorrow is Water Valley at Aberdeen, the battle for No. 1 in 2-3A.
Aberdeen played up and played as tough a non-division schedule around this corner of the state as anybody (perhaps putting West Point up there as well).
Perhaps one of Water Valley’s biggest tests was against 2A Bruce?
Most think this is Water Valley’s year, but never count out Aberdeen.
As usual, 1-4A has an important game this week, which is why this division is so much fun every year. This week, it’s Itawamba AHS at Amory in a battle for No. 1 in the division.
Certainly, Itawamba has the veteran two-headed running game, and has been dispatching all challengers so far. Amory still features the offense that broke records last season, only with a sophomore quarterback.
Will inexperience in a “big” game hurt IAHS? Does Amory have enough experience left over from last season to make this the start of a run in 4A?
I think a lot was settled in 1-2A last week with Bruce’s victory over Baldwyn, with the only drama left a county rivalry matchup in a couple of weeks Calhoun City vs. Bruce. No big games this week in that division.
In 1-5A, I love some of the jockeying for playoff position here.
That includes a big game for one of the darlings of the 2012 season – the Saltillo Tigers – who are at Oxford.
West Point appears in command of this division, and that is no surprise. Saltillo at Oxford might be the determining factor for the No. 2 position.
Oxford certainly got over a hump earlier in the season with a victory over Lafayette, and has been confidently moving through its schedule.
Saltillo will still control its own playoff destiny, even if they fall to Oxford.
Should be a great contest.
Just a reminder as the regular season comes to an end – not all classifications end on the date.
Oct. 26 is the end of the regular season for Classes 2A, 3A, and 4A; with the playoffs for these classes beginning the playoffs Nov. 2.
Nov. 2 is the end of the regular season for Classes 1A, 5A, and 6A; with their first round playoffs beginning Nov. 9.

David Wheeler has been contributing to the high school sports coverage of the Daily Journal since 1985.

David Wheeler on High School sports

Sometimes, it is nice to check up on yourself.
Back in August, I wrote in my 18-Wheeler column, attempting to predict 18 of the best games for this high school football season, most of them involving Northeast Mississippi teams.
For Oct. 12, one of my three picks was Baldwyn at Bruce. I also added that this was the second of three important games for Division 1-2A.
Well here we are on the calendar, and the biggest game in the area is – Baldwyn at Bruce.
Baldwyn did its part in Game 1 of my 1-2A calculations, beating Calhoun City 15-14 a couple of weeks ago. Also, Baldwyn has flown a bit under the radar with its challenging pre-division schedule.
Besides tests from Class 3A Water Valley, and 4A Houston, Bruce has been a bit under the radar as well – up till now.
Enjoy sports fans.
Just for the record, the other two games I picked back in Aug. for Oct. 12 were Amory at Shannon and Lafayette at New Albany.
Amory at Shannon wakes up the memories of a great rivalry. Itawamba AHS seems to have taken control of 1-4A, but this is still for playoff positioning.
To a degree, same for Lafayette at New Albany in 2-4A. Actually, Lafayette is angling toward another division crown, but Noxubee County looms as a specter for all North 4A teams.
Funny I should mention Noxubee, which hosts Houston in 4-4A. Houston gets a taste of 4A championship football this week.
Absolutely one other contest worth mentioning is in 1-5A with Saltillo hosting West Point.
Be honest, how many of you had this contest circled as a battle for first place in this division? Much credit should go to the Saltillo players and coaches for the success they’ve had so far, especially in 1-5A.
Just to remind everyone, West Point might be one of those teams that is a bit under the radar within the whole of Mississippi. Throw out a last-second field goal in a 12-10 loss to South Panola, and a 6-0 loss to Noxubee County, and West Point would be on the end of many sportswriters pencils when writing about the best teams in the state this season.
Win or lose, Saltillo has a great shot at the playoffs this season. Enjoy the ride.
P.S. Yes I know I did not mention a couple of classes, including 3A. Next week, 1-3A and 2-3A will have a couple of the top-billed games in the area.

David Wheeler has been contributing to the high school sports coverage of the Daily Journal since 1985.

David Wheeler on High School Sports

Ah, the first Friday in October, and some of the high school football playoff races are beginning to take shape.
That shape will continue to evolve with the games this Friday, Oct. 5.
Glancing at the schedule, Class 4A has some of the more eye-catching games of the week.
Shannon at Itawamba AHS is one of those in 1-4A. Is Shannon better than its non-division record? Will the Itawamba ground game out shine Shannon, or will the passing game generate some key points for either team? Has Itawamba passed Lafayette in the 4A pecking order for this season?
Corinth at Amory also impact 1-4A. A key for Corinth is recovering from its first loss of the season. Amory has the chance to position itself as the No. 2 seed with a win.
In 2-4A, the New Albany at North Pontotoc winner should get an edge for a playoff spot.
1-2A is a division I like for several teams to make a run through the playoffs. Perhaps the impact contest here is Okolona at Baldwyn. An Okolona win might really put some of the playoff spots up in the air. Baldwyn needs a win to solidify its march to one of the top two playoff spots.
In 1-5A, congratulations to Saltillo for its win over Clarksdale last week. But come Friday, what have you done for me lately? Saltillo looks to continue its momentum at Center Hill – is this Saltillo team for real?
In think 3A football in this corner of the state is under the radar to a degree when talking about the postseason. Just to mention 2-3A, when you get past Water Valley and Aberdeen for the other two playoff spots, the Mantachie at Mooreville contest has implications for the third and fourth spots.
Perhaps one of the most crucial contests is in 1-6A with Tupelo at Southaven. By my calculations, this contest could determine the No. 4 and final playoff team from this division. Remember a couple of weeks ago, Southaven played Olive Branch within three points.
Staying with 1-6A, what about South Panola and its 28-14 victory over Olive Branch last week? Pretty strong win, at least within the division. And from a poll standpoint, I would bet a lot of people are not considering South Panola for the top spot in the state, much less in 6A. Two loses just too many? My philosophy would be not to punish a team for losses outside the realm of your poll – so is South Panola really the No. 1 team in the state?
Enjoy all of the Northeast Mississippi contests Friday.

David Wheeler has been contributing to the high school sports coverage of the Daily Journal since 1985.