August 27, 2010 10:08:00 AM
The New Hope High School football team knew it would have to wait a week to kick off its 2010 season.
Knowing didn''t make the wait any easier.
But at 7:30 tonight the Trojans will hit kick off one of the most anticipated football seasons in school history. The first step won''t be easy. New Hope will take on Class 6A Tupelo five weeks after opening practice on July 26.
"Five weeks is a long time to practice without a game," Bradley said. "I think out guys are excited about it and ready to go."
Bradley said the Trojans won''t be at 100 percent. He said the team will be without at least two players tonight but he didn''t divulge their names.
Still, the Trojans should be primed to build on an 11-2 season in 2009 that saw them lose only to eventual Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state champion West Point.
The return of 16 starters, including nine on offense, has added to the optimism surrounding a program that has won one, six, eight, and 11 games the past four seasons.
"We have a veteran team," Bradley said. "They know what to do, so I don''t have to tell them a whole lot.
"I have a really good group of seniors that has been there, done that know. They know what it takes, so I don''t anticipate having to give a big pep talk to get my guys ready to play."
Veteran coach David Bradberry is in his first season as head coach at Tupelo High. He had a record of 183-77 in 22 seasons as a head coach at St. Andrew''s Episcopal School, Clinton, and Greenwood. He left his job as assistant director at the Mississippi High School Activities Association to replace Eric Collins at Tupelo High.
Bradley said Bradberry has been known to tailor his style of play to the available talent, which means the Golden Wave could look a lot like the Trojans in that they will run it and throw it. Bradley said Tupelo looked like it intentionally used a vanilla game plan in a 24-14 loss to New Albany in its jamboree at the University of Mississippi.
Still, Bradley expects Tupelo to have some similarities from last year when New Hope earned a 28-17 victory in Columbus.
"They have the same offensive coordinator and the same defensive coordinator from last year," Bradley said. "What will change are the wrinkles and the philosophy the head coach brings. He had some really good backs at Clinton and ran more of an offense like we do in that he tried to get the ball in those backs'' hands. At St. Andrew''s, he had a real good quarterback."
Bradley expects to combat Tupelo''s greater depth with a balanced offense that features senior running backs Terrance Dentry and Johnny Beamon and senior quarterback Zak Thrasher.
Seniors Jarmar Payne and Franklin Richardson Jr. and junior JoJo Reeves will anchor the defense.
Bradley feels that experience should help the Trojans be prepared for a crowd that should be eager to make plenty of noise in a stadium that seats nearly 10,000.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.