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Walters column: Prep Football Countdown - Week 5 Questions

 

Horn Lake's Tyler Grim

Horn Lake's Tyler Grim

 

Scott Walters

 

 

Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters will look at five prep football questions each Wednesday between now and Aug. 17, 2018, as we count down to the start of the prep football season. 

 

The lights will burn brightly this weekend as Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) and Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) open the prep football season with jamboree games around the state. 

 

After a couple of weeks of practice, players are ready to hit someone other than teammates. Coaches are ready to see if certain players are ready for the big stage. 

 

The beauty of preseason games is that there is no film prep. The score does not matter, so creating a game plan for a particular opponent is not necessary. 

 

In the great scheme of things, the games have little bearing on the season. However, it's safe to say we are all ready for some football. 

 

So as we count down to the first highlight tapes of the season, how about some more questions? 

 

1. After traveling the area for interviews with dozens of players and coaches, what are some early takeaways? 

 

The biggest takeaway is Columbus is ready to get started again. 

 

A year ago, the losses mounted late in the season. The team was not able to get back on its feet. The softer part of the region schedule took place later in the year, after the confidence level was shot. 

 

The players have been cautiously-optimistic during early-season workouts. For the players, it is a new coaching staff and new schemes on both offense and defense, so there is a lot on their plates. 

 

The frequent theme in the Columbus field house has been being better. The Falcons want to be better in the weight room, the classroom, the practice field and on Friday nights. 

 

An improved confidence level won't solve all of the team's problems. 

 

However, it will be important if the squad has any hopes of returning to the Class 6A playoffs for the third time in four seasons. 

 

2. What is the most impressive statistic entering the season? 

 

Well, there are a couple of choices here. 

 

West Point has won 28 straight games dating back to the second game of the 2016 season. To go undefeated on any level is impressive and last season's Green Wave squad did just that. 

 

After touring the field house, West Point players are full of confidence. They are taking the win streak in stride, having fun with it but not letting it define them. 

 

In Macon, Noxubee County enters the season with 31 straight wins in MHSAA Class 4A, Region 4 play. 

 

After a two-point loss to Louisville, Noxubee County won its final region game against Caledonia in 2011 and has not lost in region play since. 

 

This means two different senior classes finished a three-year career on the varsity level without losing a region game. That is an amazing statistic. 

 

Every team has a bad day now or then. Even on bad days, Noxubee County has been able to do what it takes to win the most important games on the schedule. 

 

3. Do we have a good enough feel to pick some region winners yet? 

 

Well, it is still mighty early in the season for this kind of stuff, but since you asked. 

 

In MHSAA play, let's go Horn Lake in Class 6A, Region 1 and Starkville High in Class 6A, Region 2. 

 

West Point will repeat in Class 5A, Region 1 (yes, this is a gimme). Slight nod to Pontotoc in Class 4A, Region 2 and Noxubee County with no stress in repeating as Class 4A, Region 4 champions. 

 

In Class 3A, Region 4, we go with Aberdeen's high-flying offense. In Class 1A, Region 3, Noxapater over Nanih Waiya at the wire. 

 

In the MAIS, Heritage Academy edges out Starkville Academy. Oak Hill Academy and Columbus Christian Academy also find a way to the top of their respective districts. 

 

4. Who is an unsung player to keep tabs on this season? 

 

How about West Lowndes senior Travion Lucious. He will be doing it all for the Panthers this season. 

 

Lucious figures to be the team's leading rusher and players cornerback on defense. 

 

After only winning two games last season, West Lowndes figures to be in the fight for one of four playoff berths in Class 1A, Region 3 play. 

 

During the offseason, Lucious has improve his speed. His hands were already elite. 

 

We will see all the different ways coach Anthony King will use him this season. 

 

5. Now that all of the road trips have been planned for the season, what do you look forward to the most? 

 

Well this question is rather easy to answer. 

 

September 14 -- Columbus at Vicksburg (Whataburger in Jackson) 

 

October 5 -- Columbus at Horn Lake (an in-game hot dog that will withstand all challengers this season) 

 

October 19 -- Columbus at Oxford (IHOP in Oxford) 

 

Yes, it's time to get this party started. 

 

Scott Walters is a sports reporter for the Commercial Dispatch. He may be reached at swalters@cdispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott.

 

Scott is sports copy editor and reporter

 

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