A fast start was all Heritage Academy needed last Friday night, making a statement in a rivalry game against Starkville Academy.
The Patriots stormed out to a 28-0 lead, and despite a late Volunteers comeback, the Pats stood their ground, improving to 4-1 on the season with a 31-21 win.
It’s onto the next for Heritage Academy as it looks to ride the momentum of a statement victory into Friday’s game against a tough 3-2 Bayou Academy team.
“Any time you win, you want to build off that momentum,” Heritage Academy coach Lance Pogue said. “It was a big conference win for us as well, so we’re really excited about moving forward.”
The offense has been the driving factor for Heritage this season, averaging 32.8 points per game this season and 39.3 points per game in wins.
Take out that 55-7 loss to Jackson Prep, and the Pats have given up less than 14 points a game. Even with that loss included, Heritage is giving up 22 points a game to opponents, an average margin of winning of over 10 points. Having won this matchup 42-14 last season, things are most definitely looking good for the Pats.
Starkville (4-0) at Madison Central (2-1)
Starkville has stormed out to a perfect 4-0 record this season, but last Friday’s game at Louisville was the Yellow Jackets’ toughest task of the year to date.
Playing against a good team in a rocking road atmosphere, Starkville pulled out a 21-20 win, but that game was exactly the type of game that this team needed heading into district play on Friday against Madison Central.
“It was a big test,” Starkville head coach Chris Jones said. “Louisville is a good program, a good team, and they have some kids who can really play. Hopefully, it will prepare us well for what’s coming up.”
Madison Central comes off a bye week and has shown to be a great offense, scoring 49 points a game in its two wins this season.
The Jaguars also have had Starkville’s number in recent years, winning two of the last three matchups between the two schools. It’s another road test for the Yellow Jackets, but it looks like the program is well prepared again and ready to begin district play on a positive note.
Aberdeen (3-1) at Caledonia (1-3)
The wind was knocked right out of Caledonia’s sails last week after its first win of the season the week before.
Facing Nettleton on the road, its third road game in four weeks, the Cavaliers couldn’t keep up, losing 41-13 to drop to 1-3 on the year.
Caledonia returns home on Friday against a great opponent in Aberdeen, who comes in sitting at 3-1 on the year.
“I think the biggest thing we have to get back to this week is just being us,” Caledonia head coach Michael Kelly said. “We didn’t play very well last week, but we just need to get back to what we need to do, what we do best and hope our kids respond on the field.”
A trip back home might just be what the doctor ordered for Caledonia, which is playing an Aberdeen team that it’s beaten two consecutive times in the all-time matchup.
Scoring early and often will be the friend of the Cavaliers, who put up 41 points on the Bulldogs in 2021 and 28 points in 2020. This team is due for an offensive explosion soon, and Friday would be a good time for it.
West Point (1-2) at Lafayette (1-3)
The 2022 season has started uncharacteristically for West Point, coming out of a bye week with a 1-2 record.
After starting out 0-2, the Green Wave got the train rolling in the right direction with a dominant victory over Noxubee County two Fridays ago, and the objective Friday night against Lafayette is to get back to .500.
“(The off week) was business as usual every day,” West Point head coach Chris Chambless said. “We just didn’t play Friday night. We still had four quality days of practice last week, and I feel like our football team got better.”
The rushing attack of West Point was on full display against the Tigers and was successful in rainy conditions.
Last season against Lafayette, it was the defense that took center stage for the Green Wave, shutting out the Commodores, 17-0.
A strong defensive performance will be needed Friday, and if the running game can continue to show success and stay consistent, West Point will have a good chance to grind out a win on the ground.
Noxubee County (2-2) at Louisville (3-1)
After starting out the season a sizzling 2-0, Noxubee County has fallen back to the .500 mark at 2-2 after giving up 34+ points in two straight games.
The Tigers are coming off a disappointing 36-25 home loss against Shannon, and this week, the focus has been on trying to fix those key mistakes that made the difference last Friday.
“I feel like we didn’t play with any energy on Friday night,” Noxubee County head coach Teddy Young said. “That’s what we’ve been focused on: energy, stopping the run on defense, not making mental mistakes on offense.”
The Tigers have been tested against two good teams over the past two weeks, and the schedule does not get any easier against Louisville, a team that nearly upset Starkville last Saturday and is having a great 2022 so far.
Having a mistake-free game will give Noxubee County a great chance for an upset as it looks to avenge a 42-6 loss last year against the Wildcats.
West Lowndes (3-1) at Sebastopol (3-1)
Last Friday’s district opener went just about as well as West Lowndes could have asked for, pulling out a close 22-20 win over Noxapater.
It was a complete performance from the Panthers (3-1), who have gotten off to their best start since the 2019 season.
That early season success will be put to the test against another 3-1 team in Sebastopol, a program that’s been evenly matched against West Lowndes over the past decade or so.
“It’s a big game as it gives us an opportunity to start 2-0 in district play,” West Lowndes head coach Anthony King said. “We bet them last year at our place. Now, we have to go into their place, which is going to be tough.”
West Lowndes has the last laugh against Sebastopol right now, having defeated the Bobcats, 28-22, at home. Although the Panthers have to travel, this program has had plenty of road success recently.
Since the start of the 2021 season, West Lowndes is 4-2 in road games, and after losing on the road last season to Tupelo Christian Prep, the Panthers rattled off six straight wins. West Lowndes can extend its current winning streak to four on Friday.
Starkville Academy (4-2) at Winston Academy (2-3)
Slow starts for Starkville Academy have led to its two losses this season, including last Friday against a tough Heritage Academy team.
Although the Volunteers stayed in the game in the second half, the comeback was too little, too late, but Starkville Academy (4-2) has its sights already set on its next opponent, Winston Academy.
“We always self-evaluate after every loss,” Starkville Academy head coach Chase Nicholson said. “You’re trying to make sure as a coach that you put your guys in the best situation to win. We made some tweaks here and there to make sure we’re getting better.”
There are plenty of positives to take out of that loss, the biggest being the second-half fight in the Vols to come back and get it to within a one-score game.
The running game between Briggs Bennett and Charlie Nicholas was working against a tired Heritage defense. That, coupled with pinpoint passing, could result in a number of scoring opportunities for the Vols on Friday.
Game of the week: New Hope at Columbus, 7:30 p.m.
Oak Hill Academy at Kirk Academy, 7 p.m.
Columbus Christian Academy at DeSoto School (Ark.), 7 p.m.
Lee Academy (Ark.) at Hebron Christian, 7 p.m.
Pickens Academy (Ala.) at South Choctaw Academy (Ala.), 7 p.m.
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