For the first time since 2004, the Tupelo and West Point football teams will face off in the regular season tonight.
West Point, ranked No. 1 in the area, and Tupelo, ranked No. 5, both enter the game with 2-1 records and impressive wins.
Tupelo beat Corinth, one of the area’s top 4A teams, before beating Neshoba Central, a 5A team with two Division I running backs last week. West Point beat the defending 6A champion Horn Lake in Week 1, then beat Starkville, 41-35, last week.
“They’re the same West Point that they are every year,” Tupelo coach Trent Hammond said. “They’re physical, extremely athletic, and fast. I told someone the other day that it’s kind of like a Mike Tyson fight. They’re going to walk in there and punch on you and see who gives.”
Like usual, West Point’s success begins with the run game. Led by Brandon Harris and Dantariyus Cannon, the Green Wave are averaging 297 rushing yards per game and have 11 touchdowns on the ground.
In its two wins, West Point rushed for 328 and 357 yards. That’s due to its play in the trenches, and that success flips over to the defensive side of the ball as well.
In the last two games played, West Point has allowed only 106 rushing yards and one touchdown on 41 carries, just above 2.5 yards per carry.
“They’ve got a defensive tackle who is extremely quick off the football, and he plays with a high motor,” Hammond said. “Then they have a linebacker behind him who makes a million tackles.”
On the other hand, West Point’s secondary has given up a significant amount of yards. In the last two games, Louisville and Starkville have combined for 677 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and one interception.
Tupelo could give West Point issues through the air. Quarterback Jake Weir has passed for 542 yards and four touchdowns, and the Golden Wave have a few weapons at receiver in Ole Miss commit Jaycob Horn, Trip Wilson and Corbin Huggins.
Horn has 331 receiving yards and three touchdowns this year.
“They’ve got two great receivers in Horn and Wilson,” West Point coach Chris Chambless said. “We have a huge challenge in front of us and we know that. Their line knows who they’re blocking and how to protect the quarterback. It’s going to be a tough challenge.”