Things have been slow around here the past few days.
June was filled with summer league games for baseball, basketball, football, softball, etc. We are now in the so-called “dead week” for high school teams, which means they’re not allowed to do any team activities.
So I’ve had time to ponder a few things. And this time of year, an idle mind naturally turns its attention to football.
The season begins Aug. 22 and 23, which is a mere seven weeks off. I’ve pored over the schedules, and several of our area teams have absolutely brutal non-division slates.
Starkville and West Point have the toughest roads. The combined 2018 record of the Yellowjackets’ five non-division foes is 55-14; same for the Green Wave.
Two of Starkville’s opponents are defending state champs: West Point (Class 5A) and Louisville (4A). Starkville, which went 11-2 last season, also faces Brandon (13-2) and Meridian (4-7) on the road and Oxford (9-3) at home.
As for West Point, it just added defending 6A champ Horn Lake (15-0) to the schedule – to open the season. Then it’s a road trip to Louisville (15-1), followed by games against Starkville, Tupelo (7-5) and Noxubee County (7-6).
Tupelo opens the season at home versus South Panola, which was a pedestrian 7-5 last season but is still South Panola. The Golden Wave then travel to Corinth (11-3), host Neshoba Central (10-3), and visit West Point (14-1).
Shannon has a formidable non-division schedule as well. The Red Raiders open with Corinth and also play Noxubee County, Houston (11-2), Louisville and Okolona (9-4).
For a lot of these teams, things don’t get much easier in division play. Starkville’s division, 2-6A, should be just as tough this season as last. Because of realignment, reigning division champ Northwest Rankin is gone, but South Panola has been added.
In 4-3A, Houston and Choctaw County have slugged it out for supremacy the last couple of years. But now here comes Noxubee County down from 4A, where it won three state titles between 2014 and 2017.
Pound for pound, 2-1A might be the strongest division in the state. Six of its nine members made the playoffs last year, with Nanih Waiya winning the state championship.
Area teams in 2-1A include Okolona, Smithville and Tupelo Christian, all of which made the playoffs last season in 1-1A.
All of this to say, nothing comes easy for high school football teams in Mississippi.