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.

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