Houston at West Lauderdale
The West Lauderdale football team failed in the toughest test of its new district last week being shutout by Noxubee County, 35-0. This week, the Knights are looking to rebound against Houston and have hopes of solidifying a playoff berth with a third district win.
“They made us look really bad to be honest,” West head coach Stan McCain said. “Our guys have put that behind us and were just focused on this week.”
The Hilltroppers are coming into the match up at 1-8, but McCain said “they are probably the best 1-8 team in the state,” so it won't be a guaranteed win.
“They are really good on defense,” he said. “They don't allow many points. You really have to work hard to get the ball in the end zone against them and they've played a lot of close games that they just haven't won.”
The Knights offense is slightly banged up, meaning they'll have their work cut out for them McCain said, and especially needs to eliminate turnovers.
Running back and defensive back Jonathan Williams is out with an ankle injury sustained last week and Tyler Turnage is still not available at quarterback. McCain will rely on his two go-tos in Tyler Lantz and Larry Ross, each took some hard tackles last week so naming a starter will wait for game time.
Central Academy at Calvary Christian
Before the acquisition of three key transfers midway through the season, Calvary Christian Academy was lost on offense. Now, after three straight performances of 60 or more points, head coach Kirby Newell believes the Cougars have found their way.
The new bulked-up Cougars are now averaging 9.6 yards a carry as a steady offensive line has paved the way for running backs to run wild.
"The first five games of the year we didn't have an identity," Newell said. "We know who we are now, and we know our identity."
This week, Calvary (4-4, 2-0) will host Central Academy (1-6, 1-3). While the Vikings schedule is not intimidating, Newell said Central will look to use its speed to get past the larger Cougars.
“People have been trying to beat us outside this year,” Newell said. “We are going to have to contain them, keep the ball inside and win the turnover battle.”
With an undefeated record in the district, Calvary will look to not only hold on for a playoff spot, but also lock up a district title by winning its final two games.
“That is our No. 1 goal,” Newell said. “We haven't had anything in the past four years to get excited about. A district championship would give us something to build on.”
Lake at Union
It seems like every time brothers Brad and Jeff Breland line up on opposing sidelines more than family pride is on the line. This year is no different as Jeff Breland leads a 8-0, 3-0 Lake team to face Union head coach Brad Breland and his 6-3, 3-0 Yellowjackets.
With two games left in the district schedule, the winner of the game will clinch first place in District 5-2A
"As far as me and Jeff coaching, it's more of a conversation thing than anything else," Brad Breland said. “The stakes are usually high, and they will be high again this year.”
Last season Union narrowly topped Lake, 8-7, on the road. Brad Breland said this year should also be a close game as the Hornets bring a talented team into Union on Friday night at 7 p.m.
"They are just real physical," Brad Breland said. "They bring a lot of speed, and they play extremely hard."
Another challenge for the Yellowjackets will be keeping up with all of Lake's offensive formations. While the two teams are familiar with each other, Breland said his defense will always be on its toes against the Hornets.
"The run a lot of sets, and we need to make sure we can line up against all of them," Brad Breland said. "We need make sure we get our assignments down. Once we line up, we have to just play them hard."
Philadelphia at Southeast Lauderdale
The Southeast Lauderdale football is heading into Week 10 with hopes of getting on the scoreboard after being shut out in back-to-back losses.
The only problem is the Tigers are hosting division and Class 3A powerhouse Philadelphia. The Tornadoes have only allowed 61 points in the four games that opponents have found the end zone. The other five were shutouts in Philly's favor.
“I won't even lie to you,” Southeast head coach Charles Black said. “We are going to have to play some good physical football and try to show them a game as much as we can.”
Last week, the Tigers struggled with almost everything Choctaw County put on the field, Black said.
“In the first half, we tackled really poorly,” he said. “The quarterback made us look really bad. So, we got to tackle better on that side of the ball. On the offensive side of the ball, Choctaw County's big defensive front basically shut us down.”
Despite the losses and the incoming visitors, Black added that practice has been “extra spirited” this week. The biggest focus for this week will be trying to pick up first downs to move the ball down the field and get in scoring range.
“We'll take our shots at a big play when we feel like we've got one,” Black said.
- By Tony Tsoukalas & Sarah Moomaw