Jackets meet Wave with 2-7A title on the line

Nov. 2—There are no secrets between the Starkville and Tupelo football teams.

They square off tonight for the fourth time in three years, with the winner claiming the Region 2-7A title. Starkville (7-2, 2-1) has won two of the last three meetings, including a 41-32 victory in last season's 6A North final.

"There are many talking points, but everybody knows everything," Tupelo coach Ty Hardin said.

One big talking point is Starkville's rushing attack, which is averaging 271.6 yards per game. It's led by senior tailback Jay Stevenson, who has run for 922 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's complemented by junior Courtland Cooper, who has 572 yards and 11 touchdowns.

And then there's senior quarterback Trey Petty. The Illinois commit is a big threat with his arm, but he's also rushed for 661 yards and seven TDs.

"You've got three special running backs, with Petty being one, too," Hardin said. "He's as good as the other two with the ball in his hand."

The only problem — if it can be called that — with Starkville's rushing game is divvying up the touches. Head coach Chris Jones said they enter a game trying to get each player a certain number of carries.

"It's also one of those deals where it's whoever gets hot," Jones said. "... We kind of say it's thunder and lightning. And you've got Trey Petty, he can run it as well. So it's good to have the three-headed monster. It's hard to key in on just one guy."

Stopping the run has been one of Tupelo's big strengths this season. Opponents are averaging just 79.2 yards per game on the ground.

In their two losses, however, the Golden Wave (7-2, 3-0) allowed 425 rushing yards combined to Houston (Tenn.) and West Point.

"We've just got to play us, be gap sound," Hardin said. "At the end of the day, they want to run the ball more than anything else. ... We've got to prevent the big play and try to cause problems up front as much as we can."

Also tonight

—Saltillo (4-6, 2-2) travels to Region 1-6A foe Center Hill (4-5, 1-3) to close out the regular season. The Tigers are trying to clinch a playoff berth for the first time in 10 years.

—Lafayette (5-4, 2-2) hosts Corinth (3-6, 2-2) with the No. 3 seed from Region 1-5A on the line.

—Oxford (6-3, 4-0), which has already clinched the Region 1-7A title, plays host to Hernando (4-5, 2-2).