There's usual quite a bit at stake when the Ackerman Indians and the Eupora Eagles meet on the football field.
Tonight will be no exception with the two rivals.
The Indians (6-2, 2-0) travel to Wafford Field to take on the Eagles (7-1, 2-0) in a Class 2A, Region 2, District 4 game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
"It's a big game for a lot of different reasons," Eupora head coach Junior Graham said. "Eupora and Ackerman have been playing for a long time. You throw the rivalry factor in there and a chance for the No. 1 seed in the division. That adds a little bit more to the game."
Ackerman took last season's game 29-25 on its way to a district title.
"The winner definitely puts themselves in position to win it," Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger said. "We both will have two games left. You certainly can't say either team would wrap it up. One of our goals is to win our region. Both teams are going to be good."
The Eagles come in as an offensive threat. They have managed to score through the air with quarterback Trey Pittman and on the ground with several options at tailback.
"They have a lot of guys they throw it to," Dillinger said. "The quarterback does a good job. They spread it out and they will throw it all over. They throw short passes a good bit and they will also throw it deep. They make you defend the field. We are just going to have to do a good job.
"They are good at both phases of the offensive game. You spend to much time to defend their receivers and take too many men out of the box, they will run it down your throat."
When the season began, Graham took notice of Ackerman's size up front on the defensive side and sees it as a real problem.
"They are so big up front on the defensive side of the ball," Graham said. "They present some serious issues. They can stop the run without having to use a lot of blitzing. We like to establish the run. What we do the best is whatever's strongest."
For the Indians on offense, it will be about hanging onto the ball and extending drives.
"We have to protect the football," Dillinger said. "We have turned it over too many times this year. We have to get first downs. When we have opportunities, we can't loose them. We have to go out and execute and do our job. We have to be good up front. We have to win the battle up front."
The Indians have had their struggles offensively but have found a way to put the ball in the end zone.
"They have a got a lot of big-play potential," Graham said. "With Quinton Lane at wide receiver and Jamarcus Bradley. You have Dakota (Brasher) who does a good job of managing the game. He is a playmaker in himself. He is a lot faster than what people give him credit to be. He is very elusive. He is a good little ole field general."
In other area matchups for week nine, West Oktibbeha host West Lowndes, Williams Sullivan goes to East Webster, East Oktibbeha travels to Pelahatchie and Hebron Christian makes the trip to Calhoun Academy. All games are set for 7 p.m. except for Hebron, which has a game time listed as 7:30.
West Lowndes (3-4, 2-2)
at West Oktibbeha (6-1, 4-0)
The Timberwolves have put themselves in a good spot to win the Class A, Region 3, District 4 championship.
To get to 5-0 in district, West Oktibbeha is going to have to steal one from the Panthers in Maben.
In last year's contest, West Oktibbeha took a 36-30 win in Columbus.
Williams Sullivan (2-6, 0-2)
at East Webster (6-2, 1-1)
The Wolverines are not looking to far ahead and ready to take care of business.
"We are just taking it one game at a time," East Webster head coach Doug Wilson said. "We are not trying to look too far ahead. We are just keeping our kids focused on one game at a time so we can be there hopefully at the end to make a run for it. We have some tough teams (upcoming)."
The Wolverines are looking to get back into the conversation for the Class 2A, Region 2, District 4 title.
Wilson has seen how good the Yellowjackets can be and what they bring to the table.
"They are very athletic," Wilson said. "They are really much improved since last year. They are always a dangerous team to play. They run a lot of athletes to the field. They are a well-coached team and they look pretty good on film."
East Webster has kept it simple in practice this week, but they have been experimenting with where to play Deangelo Liggins.
"We have worked a little more on fundamentals," Wilson said. "That is our goal for this week. We are not doing a lot of new schemes. We are trying to clean up some things we have been a little sloppy on."
East Oktibbeha (2-5, 1-3)
at Pelahatchie (7-1, 5-0)
The Titans have had a tough road and it doesn't get an easier.
The Chiefs come in winning five in a row and they are looking to make it six.
East Oktibbeha needs this Class A, Region 3, District 4 game to have any chance to making it to the playoffs.
In last year's meeting, Pelahatchie took a 41-24 victory.
Hebron Christian (8-0)
at Calhoun Academy (8-0)
The Eagles play one of their biggest games of the season and look to remain undefeated.
"It is a big game," Hebron head coach David Foster said. "I don't remember anytime in recent history when our school has been in a position where we were 8-0. There are a lot of things at stake."
Hebron is an independent so there is no playoffs for it this season. The Eagles are putting all their energy into their 10-game season.
The Cougars may be the biggest test for the Eagles this season.
"They are well-disciplined and they hustle," Foster said. "That is one thing I stress to my guys. When you are on the football field, I want you to hustle. (Calhoun is) 8-0 and they believe they can beat anybody they play. My guys are 8-0 and we think the same thing."
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