West Lauderdale at Neshoba Central expected to be physical gridiron battle

Neshoba Central's Eli Anderson (12) waits for the snap during last year's away game at West Lauderdale
Neshoba Central's Eli Anderson (12) waits for the snap during last year's away game at West Lauderdale(WTOK Sports)
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 11:43 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Neshoba Central and West Lauderdale had a lot of high expectations coming into this season.

Both teams made the playoffs last year, with the Knights falling in the second round while the Rockets pushed even further before losing in the semifinals to West Point.

As for this season, both teams had strong opening wins. West Lauderdale smoked South Jones 49-28 while Neshoba Central beat 6A Tupelo 25-17.

Both teams are undefeated at 1-0, but that will all change Friday night when the two face off for a highly anticipated 5A-4A matchup that has been played the past five seasons.

“These kids have played each other there whole life so I think both sides know exactly what to expect,” Knights head coach Brock Clay said. “I think three of the last four games have come down to the last play of the ball game so hopefully it will be a good ball game.”

Coach Clay and Rockets head coach Patrick Schoolar have used the word “physical” to describe how Friday’s matchup will likely play out.

“We anticipate a really good, hard-nose football game,” Schoolar said. “It’s two really similar teams, two really similar coaching staffs. We’re going to be physical, they’re going to be physical...I think it’s going to be one of the games of the week for sure.”

On offense, the Knights will be led by quarterback Jackson Parker and running back JaKarius Grant, who had 167 yards rushing with two touchdowns against South Jones last week.

“We’ve got to tackle the ball carrier really well,” Schoolar acknowledged. “They have a really good running back and really good defense. It’s going to come down to us doing what we need to do and we’ll see how it comes out in the end.”

As for the Rockets, their offense will be led by quarterback Eli Anderson and running back Jarquez Hunter, who rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns last week against Tupelo. Neshoba Central is just as gritty defensively as they are offensively.

“They have a defensive line that is phenomenal, a set of linebackers that like to hit people and one of the best football players in the state of Mississippi in number 27,” Clay said. “They have a veteran quarterback who did well last season and appeared to do well last week...they’re good in all aspects and phases of the game.”

The highly anticipated showdown between these two programs will kick off at 7 pm Friday at Neshoba Central.

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