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.

Okolona getting ready for Vaught Hemingway appearance

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Okolona quarterback Jordan Ivy looks for first quarter running room behind teammate Everett Brooks as Smithville’s Datrune Freeman approaches. (Brandon Speck)

Lisa Voyles from the Chickasaw Journal tells us Okolona is getting ready for a pre-season jamboree in Oxford …

OKOLONA – The Chieftains are gearing up for the fall football season with another trip to Vaught-Hemingway stadium on the University of Mississippi campus to participate in the annual pre-season jamboree.

The Chiefs are matched with 5A Center Hill of Olive Branch.

“5A, North Half finals,” smiled Okolona coach Calvin Aldridge.

The Chiefs were also contenders for North Half last season in division 2A, falling 13-14 to Hollendale-Simmons in the semi-finals and do not have a reputation for backing down from larger programs.

In last year’s jamboree at Vaught-Hemingway, they were matched with 6A Grenada and battled to a 6-6 tie.

The Chiefs will head to Oxford Aug. 10 for an 8 p.m. game.

“We’re thankful it will be cooler then,” Aldridge said of the evening time.