Monday signaled the start of practice for our MHSAA football teams which means we are that much closer to kicking off the 2014 High School Football season.
Now, many of you have your favorite school that you follow but for some in the viewing area, you are a die hard high school football fan (much like me) and have many favorite teams.
If you are looking for a week by week schedule of games to watch, look no further. I’ve done the heavy lifting and spotted games for each week that you can keep an eye on or attend for yourself! Let’s get started…
Thursday, August 21st: Heritage Academy at Caledonia
The official start to the regular season is August 22nd, but we need to get our football fix in prior to that Friday kicking off. What better way to do it then with a decent rivalry that’s beginning to spring up in the area. Caledonia and Heritage have a tremendous following on social media and the two have gone back and forth in the past. Expect this game to be a fun, up and down game with both teams taking shots at each other…whether that be on the field or on Twitter.
Week 1: Friday, August 22nd: Tupelo at Lafayette
There are many TREMENDOUS options to kick off Week 1 of the high school football season but I would recommend heading up to Oxford. Tupelo-Lafayette is a match-up between two teams that made it to the State Championship last season but fell just short in bringing home the gold ball. With both teams returning talented and strong squads, it will be one of the better played games to start off a season since both teams have outstanding coaching staffs.
(Other games to watch: Noxubee County at Starkville, Oxford at Jackson Prep, Bruce at North Pontotoc)
Thursday, August 28th: Booneville at Baldwyn / South Panola at West Point
We’re going to cheat here and give you two options because both are way too good to single out. If you’re in far north Mississippi, the Skunk Bowl will be the game for you. If you’re around the Golden Triangle, then don’t miss out on USP-WP.
*There’s no love loss between the Blue Devils and Bearcats. Baldwyn hasn’t defeated Booneville since 2008 and ever since the 2012 game where a skunk ran on the field at Latimer Park, the game has had its name. Booneville has the mental edge on Baldwyn with their recent winning streak, but the Bearcats have talked throughout the off-season how they want to get back at their rivals up the road.
*USP-WP is powerhouse football at its finest. Two of the most talented and tradition rich programs face off at Hamblin Stadium on that Thursday night as the Green Wave have their best shot to beat the Tigers this upcoming season.
Week 2: Friday, August 29th: Starkville at Oxford
What’s now being called ‘The Little Egg Bowl’ could be one of the best non division games throughout the state in Week 2 of the season. Oxford and Starkville are both expected to make a run at a State Championship in their respective classes and the two teams will feature college level quarterbacks in Oxford’s Jack Abraham and Starkville’s Brady Davis. Talent is littered all over the field in this one and the two teams are beginning to develop a little rivalry against each other.
Week 3: Friday, September 5th: Noxubee County at Louisville
It’s a shame these two teams aren’t in the same division anymore but it’s still the Toothpick Bowl and it still means something to both towns. Ask any player from either team, and they want to win this game. It has no bearing on the divisional race or the playoff push, but the bragging rights and the pride that is won by taking the victory in this game lasts forever. If there’s one game to go to for energy and excitement in 2014, this one should be at the top of your list.
(Other Games to Watch: West Point at Starkville, Amory at Aberdeen)
Week 4: Friday, September 12th: Bruce at Water Valley
If you have never been to a game at Death Valley, then this game has to be on your schedule for 2014. Not only will it be a tremendous atmosphere, but it should be entertaining with talent all across the field. Water Valley returns a strong team that finished 2014 with an 11-2 record while Bruce has Dandy Dozen star Jay Johnson on the field along with a talented and deep team.
(Other Games to Watch: West Point at Columbus, North Pontotoc at South Pontotoc)
Thursday, September 18th: Baldwyn at Saltillo
I’m a sucker for Thursday night games so if there is one going on, you can best believe that I’ll be there for it. While this one appears to be a mismatch since it’s a 2A team vs. a 5A team you’d be surprised at how competitive and interesting this one could be. Baldwyn has a team that will compete for the 2A North Title while Saltillo returns their big bad tailback Diamante Pounds on offense.
Week 5: Friday, September 19th: Pontotoc at North Pontotoc
Another great rivalry game that I’ve personally seen twice at The Hollow. No love loss between these two teams and with North Pontotoc on the rise as a football program, Pontotoc has something to prove this season. Let’s just make sure that this year’s game is played under clear skies and no rain!
Week 6: Friday, September 26th: Oxford at West Point
This was a tough one to decide between with two other great games on the slate but in the past this has been the game that decides the division title. This year should be no different as Oxford finally got over the hump and took out West Point last year en-route to their run to Jackson. The Green Wave will surely not forget losing to the Chargers last season and I’d expect WP to come out in a fury for this one this season.
(Other Games to Watch: Aberdeen at Corinth, Charleston at Noxubee County)
Week 7: Friday, October 3rd: The Skuna River Rivalry – Bruce at Calhoun City
Mississippi has its fair share of great rivalries on the football field, but this one is certainly one of the best. Take a 10 minute trip down Highway 9 from Bruce, over the Skuna River, and you’ll find yourself in enemy territory at Calhoun City. The Boneyard will be the host site for this year’s rivalry showdown and this one may be the one for the ages. Ask any player from Bruce who they want to beat the most, and no question it’s their rivals from City. The Trojans haven’t beaten the Wildcats since 2004, which have given Calhoun City bragging rights for nearly an entire decade over the town from up north. Expect this game to be a slug-fest between two teams expected to make a run towards a State Championship. I hope that I can be there for it!
Week 8: Friday, October 10th: Booneville at North Pontotoc
We could have gone up to Bruce for Week 8 but we’re going to take the trip up to Ecru for this Friday game that could very well decide Region 1-3A yet again in 2014. In one of the most entertaining games of the season last year, the Vikings and Blue Devils scored quickly and efficiently in a high-flying first half. Expect another high-scoring free for all this year as the winner of this game could take some major momentum with them for the rest of the year.
Week 9: Friday, October 17th: South Panola at Tupelo
Week 9 was Judgment Week last year in Mississippi High School Football and it will be the same again this season. There are crucial games littered throughout the schedule for Week 9 but we are going up to The Flood Zone for this clash of titans in Region 1-6A. Tupelo knew they’d have to go through USP to make it to Jackson last year, and sure enough after competing for 4 quarters in the regular season they took out the Tigers in the playoffs. I don’t think South Panola forgot how that one went last year, which will make this October 17th regular season game all the more entertaining to see in person.
(Other Games to Watch: Louisville at Aberdeen, Corinth at Itawamba AHS, Starkville at Madison Central)
Thursday, October 23rd: The Cross Creek Rivalry – Nanih Waiya at Noxapater
Easily my favorite game of every high school football season is NW-Pater. You want old school rivalry where the two towns despise each other? Look no further than the Cross Creek Rivalry. It was a bit of a stunner last season seeing the Tigers fall to the Warriors with Noxapater having all the hype of a team that looked to make it to Jackson. This year, it could be the other way around. Nanih Waiya returns an extremely strong junior class while Noxapater will have to work to rebuild following the loss of their strong class of seniors. But like it is with any rivalry football game, throw the records and the preseason hype out the window. It’s all about showing up and playing the game. If you’re free on that Thursday in late October, I strongly advise getting to Noxapater for that game.
Week 10: Friday, October 24th: Heritage Academy at Starkville Academy
Another great rivalry game where the two teams know each other extremely well and leave everything at the gate when they walk in. Getting to know these two schools well over the past three years, I know how much they want to beat each other. As of late, it’s been Heritage that has gotten the best of their rivals but the Volunteers may return the stronger of the two teams this time around. But just like I mentioned above, it’s a rivalry game and you throw the records out the window. It’s all about showing up and getting after it.
Thursday, October 30th: The Maroon Bowl – East Webster at Eupora
For my money, this is one of the Top 5 rivalries in the area. The ‘Maroon Bowl’ which it will now be referred to features two schools separated by just 15 miles. Heck, even on Wednesday when I was visiting Eupora today they didn’t show some of their plays on offense and special teams because they were afraid I would show it on our High School Football Tour and ‘East Webster would get some early help!’. That’s the rivalry for you right there. Which team does Eupora want to beat the most in 2014? East Webster. Which team does East Webster want to beat the most in 2014? Eupora. Nothing else needs to be said. But not only does this game have huge bragging rights on the line, it could mean the difference between making or missing the playoffs.
Week 11: Friday, October 31st: Ripley at New Albany
Speaking with New Albany earlier in the off-season, they’ve talked as a team about how much they want to beat Ripley after the pounding the Tigers put on the Bulldogs last year. (33-0 to be more specific). That defeat has driven NA in the off-season and they know they are catching Ripley at home this season. What better way to end the regular season than to top your rival? We shall see.
Week 12: Friday, November 7th: Coffeeville at Hamilton
While 2A, 3A and 4A are beginning their postseasons we are still sorting things out in 1A, 5A and 6A. There may not be more riding on the last week of the regular season in any classification than in Class 1A when Coffeeville visits Hamilton. It decided the division in 2013 and I would expect it to do the same in 2014. The Lions have a good amount of preseason hype this year while the Pirates were the team no one could beat in district play last season…then the playoffs came around and the 1-seed was stunned in the first round. Both teams will have something to prove on this final night in the 2014 regular season. Make it a point to come see this 1A game that will feature some impressive talent on both sides of the ball.
**Did I miss out on any games?? Be sure to either leave a comment below or tweet me @RobbyDonoho if you have any suggestions on games that I am missing out on!