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Neshoba Central returns to the gridiron Friday after three week hiatus

Neshoba Central gets ready to snap the ball in the Rockets' Oct. 23 matchup against Ridgeland
Neshoba Central gets ready to snap the ball in the Rockets' Oct. 23 matchup against Ridgeland(WTOK Sports)
Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 12:22 AM CST
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PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (WTOK) - It’s been 27 days since Neshoba Central High School played a football game.

The Rockets had two matchups canceled due to COVID-19 concerns with the opposing team, including a first round playoff matchup against Lafayette. Now, they find themselves in round two of MHSAA 5A playoff action where they will host Ridgeland on Friday.

Ironically, Neshoba Central’s most recent matchup was against Ridgeland on Oct. 23. The Rockets came out slow in the beginning of the game to trail the Titans 20-6 at halftime. The Rockets outscored Ridgeland 23-13 in the second half but it wasn’t enough as they went on to lose 33-29.

Senior running back Jarquez Hunter said the team came out “flat” in the matchup but believes they have learned from mistakes made.

”Last time we played them we weren’t ready, we weren’t focused on the game...everybody didn’t do their assignments,” Hunter said. “But we’re hyped up ready to play again because we haven’t played in a couple weeks.”

Friday’s game is not only a redemption matchup for the Rockets, but a win or go home situation. If they win, they advance on to the semifinals while a loss means their season is over.

”Everybody wants another shot because the kids feel like they didn’t give their best shot,” Neshoba Central head coach Patrick Schoolar said. “Our mindset is let’s go try it one more try and see if we’re a better football team. If we are, we are and if not, we go home.”

Junior linebacker Jaharon Griffin said the mood at practices and around campus this week has been different as everyone is anxious for the Rockets to get back to the playing field. Griffin said the team knows what they have to do this time around to get the job done.

“We’ve got to punch them in the mouth from the first get go. From the first snap of the ball we’ve got to come out and do our jobs, be explosive and beat these guys,” Griffin said. “We’re capable of doing it but we’ve got to come out fast and crsip. That’s how we’re going to win.”

The winner of Friday’s matchup will advance on to the 5A semifinals to face the winner of the Grenada-West Point game.

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