It's not often that Newton County and Neshoba Central meet on the gridiron, but when the 4A Cougars host the 5A Rockets, fans will see contrasting styles. Newton county will utilize their speed while the Rockets line up behind huge offensive lineman and pound the ball.
"Their offensive line probably out-weighs us by 75 to 100 pounds, so we sort of expect them to come after us," says Cougar Head Coach Jackie Williamson. "No hidden secrets there. We feel like we got to get our athletes in space. We have some really good skill guys that seem to be our strong point. We need to try to get the ball out to them in space as fast as we can."
And the Cougars have the athletes to do it. Slot receiver Jamoral Graham can do just about anything. The Mississippi State commit will catch passes, return punts and occasionally line up at running back... and he can't wait to make his team's 5-5 season a distant memory.
"Everybody's going to say what happened last season, but what people don't know is we're not worried about what's happening last season. We're worried about what's happening this season," says Graham. "We're just gonna try to play our game... do what's best for the team."
Beside Graham, the Cougars have a stable of backs and receivers that can do damage.
"De'Andre Wansley... Trent Hudnall... both of those guys are gonna make some big plays this year," says Graham. "Because I've been working with those guys, and they've been working with me. We've all been putting in the same work. I just think it's gonna pay off."
They'll all be catching passes from Jacob Edwards. Edwards stands over six feet tall and has several starts under his belt, so you would never know he's just a sophomore.
"We choose two leadership captains out of each class, and this is our second year for them [Edwards and sophomore receiver DeRyan Wansley] to both be leadership captains," says Williamson. "So that tells you they have that knack to be our future leaders down the road, but they're already doing it now."
"Most of the seniors that are starters, they'll come up to me, and if I'm down they'll pick me up," says Edwards. "If i'm up, they'll just congratulate me and all that,"
The Cougars also have the best placekicker in the district in senior Bryden Reed, who will also carry punting responsibilities.