The Meridian Star
Another week, another rivalry game.
In Week 5, West Lauderdale will host Newton County in, possibly, the biggest one of the season, as the heated relationship spans across all sports at the two schools.
But with West's move to District 4 in Class 4A, less is on the line Friday night – but that hasn't made a difference in either team's attitude. It's still a must win.
“It's a rival game, so we haven't had to say a whole lot to the kids,” Newton County head coach Jackie Williamson said. “If they can't get up for West Lauderdale, then they can't get up to play anybody … We want some positive momentum going as we go into districts.”
Last season, Newton County won the bragging rights, winning 26-13 in the second-to-last game of the season, but both teams missed the playoffs. Williamson said he and the team wanted to be 5-0 at their Week 6 bye, but with last week's lost have settled on 4-1.
“Last year was a big thing,” Williamson said. “It was good to see our kids win, we didn't play really great last year, but we played well enough to win the game … our objective is to try to get in, try to get a win, no matter the margin.”
Both teams enter this week's battle at 3-1. In Week 4, Newton County lost a low-scoring, three-point game in its first road game of the year to Forest, 10-7. West Lauderdale took home a blowout from Choctaw Central, 40-7.
“It's another game for us, not to down play the rivalry deal, but regardless of what happens, we just trying to get better,” West Lauderdale head coach Stan McCain.
The Cougars could be without sophomore quarterback Jacob Edwards who injured his hand in last week's loss. Williamson wouldn't speak to his game eligibility, but said he has been throwing at practice.
After four games, Edwards is averaging 167 passing yards per game, and threw for 110 yards in Week 4. He's rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns this season.
If Edwards misses the start, the Cougars will have to look else where for his stats. Jamoral Graham will likely be heavily leaned on, even if Edwards plays, as running back/defense back Trent Hudnall is out with a concussion.
The two injuries have forced Williamson to alter his game plan earlier in the season than he'd hoped. On thing for sure, he said, is the Cougars need to come out with more intensity than they did last week.
“We got hit good in the mouth Friday night against Forest and they took it to us,” Williamson said. “We need to take some intensity from that game, take what Forest did to us and take it to West Lauderdale the same way.”
Despite the loss, he said the defense played their best game yet and hopes the improvements continue on Friday.
“We're through licking our wounds, so it's time to get back to playing,” Williamson said. “I feel like our defense was our strong point. I'm excited. We're growing up, we started growing up at the right time.”