Jaheim Smith

Northeast Lauderdale’s Jaheim Smith (6) fights for yardage against Meridian defenders during their game Aug. 23 at Northeast Lauderdale. The Trojans will play at Southeast Lauderdale tonight.

Several storylines surround Friday’s contest between Northeast Lauderdale and Southeast Lauderdale.

The Tigers and Trojans both enter the game 0-2 on the young season. Southeast Lauderdale coach Calvin Hampton and Northeast Lauderdale coach Glen Sanders both previously worked together at West Lauderdale more than a decade ago, when Sanders was the Knights’ offensive coordinator and Hampton was the team’s offensive line coach.

And, of course, it’s a county rivalry, as both teams are part of the Lauderdale County School District.

Here is how each team is approaching Friday’s contest:

SOUTHEAST LAUDERDALE

The host team for the Lauderdale County matchup, Southeast Lauderdale has dropped contests to Heidelberg and Enterprise, 38-8 and 40-26 respectively. Hampton said he’s seen some positives from the players, especially when it comes to their attitudes.

“To be quite honest, coming in 0-2, I was expecting for guys to miss practice and point fingers, which is what happens when it comes to not winning, but it’s been the exact opposite with this team,” Hampton said. “We’ve had 100-percent participation, and they’ve come ready to work. They realize the mistakes they made, and there hasn’t been any finger-pointing. There’s been a lot of continuity.”

When he went back and saw film of the last two games, Hampton said he saw a lot of growth between Week 1 and 2, even though the final score against Enterprise wasn’t what they wanted.

“In Game 1, we just didn’t execute,” Hampton said. “We had a lot of missed assignments and played with bad body language in my opinion. They competed and played with a lot of heart in Game 2 and held each other up, so I see that they’re following the process.”

With a county rivalry game next for the Tigers, Hampton said he’s noticed a little more energy in practice this week.

“Both teams are 0-2 right now, so one team is going to come out with a win, so that’s more motivation right there,” Hampton said. “On top of that, it’s a county opponent, and one of our short-term goals is to at least compete against and win against some county teams.”

Going against a friend in Sanders brings another dimension to the game, but Hampton said the contest is bigger than the two head coaches.

“His coaching style changes, so it’ll be fun,” Hampton said. “He’ll have the boys ready to play, but what I’ve come to realize is, it’s a rivalry, so I don’t know how both teams couldn’t be pumped up about it. It’s going to be a good atmosphere.”

NORTHEAST LAUDERDALE

The visiting team fell to Meridian 22-18 in Week 1 and dropped another close contest to South Jones last week 28-21.

“We’ve played hard, and the kids have gotten after it and given a great effort,” Sanders said. “In the first game, I thought depth became an issue for us late. Last week, we shot ourselves in the foot on both sides of the ball a few times. We had some opportunities to put up more points and take points away, and we didn’t do it, so what I’ve taken away from that is, we have to play a complete ball game.”

Practice has been going well this week, Sanders said, and while there’s a lot of hype surrounding the county rivalry aspect, the Trojans are trying to focus on themselves more than their opponents.

“My philosophy is, we’re not concerned with who we’re playing, we’re concerned about us, and that’s the approach we take every week,” Sanders said. “We feel like if we do the things we’re supposed to do then everything takes care of itself. Unfortunately, we haven’t done that the past two weeks, but that’s our drive, so we try not to get caught up in the hype of playing a county school.”

When watching film on Southeast Lauderdale, Sanders said the Tigers’ aggressiveness stands out the most.

“Coach Hampton has instilled a gritty, aggressive atmosphere down there,” Sanders said. “I know him from having worked with him, and he’s going to have his kids ready to play. They get after it, and they’re excited. They jump up and down when they score, and on defense, they play hard and run to the football, so we’re going to have to equal that.”

Going against a friend leads to some nerves right up until kickoff, but once the game is underway, Sanders said it’s all business after that.

“Coach Hampton is a great football coach, and he’s going to get everything he can out of his kids, so like I said before, we’re going to have to equal that.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday at Southeast Lauderdale.

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