September 22, 2014 10:23:20 PM
Region play cranks up in Classes 5A and 6A Friday night. Several rivalries games are on tap as we officially hit the midway point of the season.
Now, some winners...
Columbus at Starkville
Columbus has fought hard through its first four games of the season. Coach Randal Montgomery is building a program and he is doing it through discipline and physical football. The Falcons finally got rewarded this past Friday night with its first win - a dominating 43-20 win over Louisville.
First look at the Falcons will show that they are playing a tremendous amount of sophomores. Both leading rushers (Kendre Conner and Kylin Hill) Friday night were sophomores. It is a credit to Montgomery and his staff the squad continues to play hard despite early-season adversity.
Meanwhile, Starkville is a senior-dominated team. The Yellow Jackets have backed up being the state's top-ranked team by winning their first four games in convincing fashion.
In a win over Florence (Ala.), Starkville had two receivers - Raphael Leonard and A.J. Brown - with double-digit catches. The Starkville passing game, led by quarterback Brady Davis, is lethal.
Columbus will continue to build and will make strides Friday night. However, Starkville is on quite a roll at the moment.
Starkville 45, Columbus 7
Clarksdale at New Hope
The buzz continues to build around the New Hope program. Under first-year coach Kris Pickle, the Trojans have won their first four games - already matching the win total of last season's team.
Brenton Spann is turning heads and has emerged as one of the coverage area's premier running backs. New Hope had a high-octane offense last season, but now this year, the defense is joining in on the fun.
If non-region results mean anything, the race will be tight for all four playoff spots in Class 5A, Region 1. Six teams have either three or four wins. New Hope appears poised to be contender throughout the race.
Clarksdale has struggled to a 2-2 start. The Wildcats own very narrow wins over Greenwood and Greenville. A year ago, Clarksdale won this game 56-21. In a lot of ways, the Trojans failed to recover for the remainder of the region race.
This year will be quite different.
New Hope 34, Clarksdale 14
Oxford at West Point
Speaking of the Class 1A, Region 5 race. Last season, the race was decided on the first week of play when Oxford knocked off West Point. Once again the region rivals collide Friday night at McCallister Field. Again, the stakes are very high.
West Point enters 3-2. The Green Wave is coming in off arguably its best performance of the season - a come-from-behind 33-19 win over Noxubee County. The Green Wave trailed 19-14 at halftime. It appears the West Point offense has steadily improved since the start of the season. The defense is also much improved over a year ago.
Oxford is 3-1. The Chargers are still in everybody's rankings, even though they may still be licking their wounds from a 52-29 loss to No. 1 Starkville. The Chargers have bounced back from that defeat by trouncing East Side and Lafayette.
Even in its darkest days, the West Point defense played well in this matchup last season. Oxford scored late to pull away to a 30-20 victory. The Chargers have most of the same participants back on the offensive side of the ball.
A young West Point team continues to grow up. Is the squad now ready for a signature win?
West Point 28, Oxford 27
Charleston at Noxubee County
The last of a rugged non-region schedule for Noxubee County finds the Tigers playing host to Charleston Friday night. Charleston is off to a 3-1 start, after falling in the Class 3A North State championship game a season ago.
Noxubee County always plays a loaded non-region schedule. A large reason for Noxubee County's success inside Class 4A, Region 4 play is because the squad is always battle-tested and playing at a high level when region play starts. Again this season, Noxubee County's first five opponents have a combined 14 wins.
Noxubee County is 3-2 on the season, after last week's 33-19 loss to West Point. The Tigers have wins over Class 6A foe Columbus and pair of Class 3A foes - Louisville and Aberdeen. The offense continues to make strides. However, Noxubee County needs to tighten up the defense, which has always been a calling card for the Tigers.
Noxubee County 24, Charleston 16
Aberdeen at Corinth
An offensive shootout is possible when Class 4A, Region 1 favorite Corinth plays host to Aberdeen.
Corinth is off to a 4-1 start. The Warriors are averaging 38 points per game. Easily the top team in this region (the remainder of the league is below .500), Corinth's lone loss was a 38-33 setback in a shootout to Booneville. Junior quarterback Antares Gwyn has thrown for 707 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
Aberdeen is 3-2, after last week's 57-29 win over Itawamba AHS. The Bulldogs are averaging 29 points per game, even though they were shut out by Noxubee County. Senior quarterback Josh Williams passed for 245 yards, rushed for 142 yards and scored six touchdowns in the win over Itawamba AHS.
Corinth won last season's meeting, 30-28. More of the same can be expected.
Corinth 38, Amory 30
Heritage Academy at Oak Hill Academy
The area's best MAIS matchup of Week 6 is the neighborhood battle between Heritage Academy and Oak Hill Academy.
Heritage Academy is 3-2, thanks to last Friday's 42-17 win over Hillcrest Christian. The Patriots are still looking for a way to put everything together for four quarters. Still, the stretch run of district play lies ahead and Heritage Academy wants again finds themselves in the mix with lots to play for.
Oak Hill Academy is also 3-2. The Raiders come in playing really good football, with a shutout win over Winston Academy and a 29-27 last-second escape against Newton County Academy.
Two years ago, the suspense of this game lasted one play. Heritage Academy scored on the game's first snap and cruised to a 42-0 win. Last year, Oak Hill Academy closed the gap considerably, falling 23-14.
We will find out Friday night if Oak Hill Academy has closed the gap even more.
Oak Hill Academy 24, Heritage Academy 23
West Lowndes 24, Ethel 0 ... Victory Christian 44, East Memorial 12 ... Choctaw County 34, Caledonia 27 ... Amory 34, Bruce 32 ... East Webster 34, J.Z. George 6 ... Louisville 24, Kosciusko 14 ... Noxapater 42, East Oktibbeha 12 ... French Camp 20, West Oktibbeha 6 ... Starkville Academy 42, Winston Academy 12 ... Hebron Christian 34, Delta Academy 20 ... Columbus Christian 44, Greenville Christian 6 ... Central Academy 42, Calvary Christian 12 ... Lamar County 34, Sulligent 12 ... Aliceville 34, Pickens County 18 ... Pickens Academy 24, East Memorial 20 ... South Lamar 34, Holy Spirit 12
Last Week: 14-6 (70 percent)
For Season: 83-19 (81.4 percent)
5. Military brief: Cutrer graduates COMMUNITY