Sep. 8—One of the nation's top recruits will be on hand in Ripley tonight when the Tigers square off against Choctaw County.
Choctaw County wide receiver Caleb Cunningham is the No. 11 national recruit in the class of 2025, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, and has offers from across the SEC. Ripley is off to a 2-0 start, but Cunningham and the Chargers (2-0) will offer a unique challenge.
"They sort of use him as a decoy, and they go to him," Ripley head coach Perry Liles said. "Just got to cover him with what we have and hope we play well. I think the secondary is a strong point of our team. They're all seniors and good. They are going to be challenged by a good player this week, but we can't forget about their other receivers."
Cunningham has nine catches for 251 yards and four touchdowns this season. Choctaw County has also gotten a couple of huge performances from running back Jeremiah Miller, who has 14 carries for 201 yards and two touchdowns already.
Ripley will be coming into Friday's game with plenty of momentum. The Tigers blew out Kossuth, the No. 3 team in the Daily Journal's small schools rankings, 40-14 last week.
"They brought a lot to us, and we sort of handled it," Liles said. "I was happy about that. We just sort of play one game at a time. What happened before doesn't matter. Only what matters is this Friday, so we've got to prepare to play this team."
Ripley will be looking to control possession and keep the ball away from Cunningham and the Chargers. Defensively, the Tigers have only given up 30 points in two games this season, so they'll be trying to keep their strong defensive profile.
"The ability of our offense to move the ball, keep it away from them, so I would say our offensive line would be a key for that," Liles said. "Defensively, up front we're pretty good. Our linebackers are getting better, our secondary is pretty good. I couldn't pick out one person, I don't think, but as a team, we've just got to move the ball better."