If your football team is still playing this week, it’s had a good season up to this point.
Neshoba Central (10-3) would like for its good season to continue, and the Rockets will face a daunting challenge Friday at West Point (13-1) in the MHSAA Class 5A North State title game.
“The kids are excited,” Neshoba Central football coach Patrick Schoolar said. “They’ve been excited all week. With a (school) district as big as ours, sometimes you have kids traveling 25 to 30 miles to come to practice, but attendance was good all week.”
The Green Wave enter Friday’s game with a No. 6 ranking in Mississippi according to MaxPreps.com, and Schoolar said West Point’s reputation is well-deserved.
“They’re the three-time defending state champions for a reason,” Schoolar said. “Their staff does a great job. I think that staff has been together probably the last seven to nine years, and Coach (Chris) Chambless I think has been there longer than that. I expect them to play a good, West Point brand of football.”
This late in the season, practice is geared toward review more than anything, and Schoolar said he’s trusting the same process that’s given his team the success it’s had so far.
“You’re not going to put in anything new or reinvent the wheel,” Schoolar said. “You’re just going to go with what got you here.”
Schoolar also said he’s grateful for the fan support throughout the season, and he hopes to give Rockets fans a football game to attend after this week.
“Making it this far in the playoffs is huge,” Schoolar said. “It’s big for our school, our community and our players. Not a lot of people gave us a shot to be here. Inside the building we felt like we had this chance, but maybe not so much outside, and that’s OK, we understands. As far as our fanbase, though, you couldn’t ask for much better.”
While West Point is used to playing on a big stage, the environment of a North State title game will be new to the Neshoba Central players, and handling that pressure will be a big key for his team, Schoolar said.
“Other than that, it’s the old coaching talk: You can’t have turnovers and big plays,” Schoolar said. “I foresee it being an old-fashioned, here-we-come-here-they-come game. When the fourth quarter comes around, we’ll see where we’re at.”
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday at West Point.