CATEGORY: FOL High School Football

AUTHOR: PEPPER

HED:Jackets on tap for No. 2 Tupelo

By Bobby Pepper

Daily Journal

If there's anything tougher for Tupelo than facing Starkville, it's taking on a Starkville team that lost the previous week.

The unbeaten Golden Wave knows Starkville will be looking to make up for its first loss when they meet in a Region 1-5A game tonight at the THS stadium.

"They're going to come up here ready to play," Wave head coach Johnny Hill said. "It's real big in the playoff picture for them and us. I know they don't want to lose their first two district games."

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

While Tupelo (5-0 overall, 1-0 1-5A) came away with a 30-14 win in its region opener last week, Starkville (4-1, 0-1) fell victim to Grenada 39-27.

The win helped Tupelo replace Starkville at the No. 2 spot in the Associated Press Top 20 state poll. While Tupelo moved from fifth to second, Starkville dropped to sixth in this week's poll.

"Starkville's got some good talent," Hill said. "Grenada just caught them on a bad night and took it to them."

Starkville coach Chuck Friend said his team needs to eliminate the turnovers and poor defensive play that hurt it against Grenada.

"Usually, a loss can make you better or you tend to go the other way," he said. "Hopefully, we'll make some improvement. To have a chance against Tupelo, we've got to play mistake-free football and our defense has got to step up."

Hill said he was pleased with his team's effort against Columbus. The Wave took command in the second quarter with a 23-point second quarter.

"If you take away two long plays, Columbus would have had only about 60 yards of total offense," he said.

However, the Golden Wave will be facing a better offensive unit in the Yellowjackets, led by versatile quarterback Freddie Milons. The senior has run for 482 yards and seven touchdowns and has passed for 306 yards and three TDs.

Facing Starkville's offense will be a challenge for the Wave defense, Hill said. Tackle Stephen Traylor and linebacker Jereamie Cook lead in total tackles with 34 apiece.

"Milons is like a jackrabbit out in a pasture," Hill said. "We might slow him up, but it will be hard to contain him."

Tailback Mark Cannon (93 carries, 640 yards, 7 TDs) leads the Wave offense. Starkville is led defensively by linebacker Jason Clark (53 tackles) and strong safety Perez Boyd (48 tackles).

Friend said one thing Tupelo has going is confidence, which he hopes his team can regain with a win over the Wave.

"You can tell Tupelo's confidence has improved a lot since their earlier games," he said. "They got confidence from those wins."

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