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All the time, coaches say the most important game is the next one.
Never does that phrase ring more true than it does for East Webster as the Wolverines host West Lowndes tonight at 7 p.m.
East Webster enters with a 10-0 overall record and sit at first place in Region 2-2A with a 4-0 mark.
West Lowndes sits tied with Eupora for second in the division with a region record of 3-1, while being 6-3 overall.
"It's a game you've got to win," said East Webster head coach Jimmy Carden. "If you don't, we could end up with a three-way tie for first (in the division). In that situation, you can go all the way from first to third, so it's a huge game. We've got them at home, so we're proud of that."
The magnitude of the situation isn't lost on Carden's players either. Moments after last week's 34-6 win against J.Z. George, the Wolverines were already shifting their focus to the Panthers.
"We've got to start coming in on Monday, work hard from the start of practice to the end of practice, that's all we can do. Just work," said East Webster quarterback Ledrick Patterson.
If East Webster is to clinch its division tonight, a key could be the Wolverines' containment of West Lowndes junior running back Antonio Wilson.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Wilson averages over 170 yards per game rushing with 11 total touchdowns this season on the ground.
Wilson, who was shaken up in the Panthers' game against Eupora last week, was held to just 50 yards rushing in the 30-6 West Lowndes loss.
The Eagles limited the Panthers' speedster to just 1 rushing yard in the second half.
Similarly, East Webster hopes to make Wilson a non-factor and finish the regular season undefeated.
"(West Lowndes) will be tough," said Eupora senior tight end and defensive tackle Lilton Vance. "They'll be hard to keep down. We've just got to play uphill instead of going downhill all night. The defense has got to do the job."
Eupora (6-3) at Ackerman (1-9)
In what has been a lost season for Ackerman, the Indians host Eupora in a rivalry game that history has proven anything can happen.
The Indians, who haven't won since defeating Starkville Academy 8-6 in the season-opener, beat the Eagles 6-0 last year in a game that won Ackerman the Region 2-2A championship.
While Ackerman has already been eliminated from playoff contention this year, tonight's 7 p.m. game carries plenty of weight for Eupora.
A Eupora loss could potentially knock the Eagles from second in the division, back to third, a situation that would cost Eupora home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
South Leake (7-2) at West Oktibbeha (6-3)
West Oktibbeha hosts a crucial Region 3-1A matchup against a South Leake team that has given up the fewest points in the division.
The Wildcats are surging coming into tonight's 7 p.m. game, having won their last three contests by a combined score of 104-6.
Conversely, the Timberwolves have lost two of their last three after beginning the season 5-1.