CATEGORY: FOL High School Football
BALDWYN, NETTLETON FACE CRUCIAL DIVISION 1-2A GAMES THIS WEEK
By Mike Talbert
Two Lee County football teams are involved in games this week that will clear up the race for the Division 1-2A championship. Baldwyn is at home against Booneville, and Nettleton is at Hatley.
The Nettleton-Hatley contest has been moved up to 7 p.m. today because of another championship concern.
The two schools' softball teams were involved in playoff contests. With the possibility that one or both teams would be playing Friday and Saturday in the state tournament finals at Brandon, school officials decided to move the football game up to avoid scheduling conflicts.
"There is more to high school than just football," Nettleton superintendent Larry Williams said. "There are a lot of people involved who would want to be at both places. Five of our softball players are in the band and four are cheerleaders. The same is true for Hatley."
The schools had to make a decision on the game before the girls played their second-round series Wednesday.
The change of the game date doesn't change the stakes in either game.
Hatley (5-3 overall, 1-1 division) played its way into the 1-2A race last week by beating Baldwyn 17-14. That turned Baldwyn's game Friday into a must-win situation for the Bearcats (6-1, 1-1).
The division lead is shared by Nettleton (5-1, 2-0) and Booneville (7-1, 2-0), which has been on a winning streak after dropping its season opener.
In other Lee County games Friday, Shannon (7-2, 6-1) will try to hold on to a share of the Division 1-3A lead as it hosts Saltillo (2-5, 2-4). Also, Mooreville (2-5, 0-2 ) hosts Belmont (2-6, 0-2) in a Division 1-2A game.
Baldwyn, which is trying to end a four-year losing streak to Booneville, is making some lineup adjustments to compensate for the loss of versatile starter Neal Allen to a season-ending leg injury in the Hatley game.
Michael Paul Lee will fill in for Allen at offensive tackle and freshman Erskin Beene will replace him at linebacker. The kicking game, which Allen handled, is still in the air.
But even healthy, Baldwyn coach Larry Gann said Booneville will be hard to handle.
"They found a way to win during tough times (when linebacker Chaynce Jackson was lost for three games and quarterback Chuck Spearman was lost for the season). They are playing very good football right now, with lots of talent in the skill position and tons of speed," Gann said.
Jackson has returned to action and leads the team with 82 tackles. Roderick Miller, filling in for Spearman at quarterback, leads the team with 580 yards and seven touchdowns passing and 436 yards and six TDs rushing.
Booneville coach Jim Drewry said his team's strength is the special teams. The Blue Devils have returned 12 touchdowns this year four on kickoffs, three on punts and five off turnovers. Jose Tynes, with touchdowns off an interception, a punt and a kickoff, leads a group of seven players with return touchdowns.
"We don't have one dominating player like Baldwyn," Drewry said. "I am not sure we can stop (running back) Brad Price."
Price leads Baldwyn with 1,034 yards and five touchdowns.