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Noxapater gets undefeated Durant again

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
NOXAPATER The way Noxapater head coach Jim Ray sees it, the Tigers matchup three weeks ago against Durant, was a throw-out or snowball-effect game.
The NHS Tigers entered the Durant contest, locked in to their playoff positioning, minus starting quarterback Ryan Smith due to an ankle sprain and having to hit the road to play in one of the most hostile environments in all of Class 1A.
All those factors mixed in with a healthy dose of fumbles and penalties led to the 46-0 whitewashing of Ray's Tigers by Durant, giving them the Region 2-1A title outright.
But that was then, this is now and now Noxapater gets a do-over.
Ray's team will get the chance to show exactly how much better his team is when they play host to top-ranked Durant (12-0) Friday at 7:30 p.m.
They will also benefit from playing at home and having a nearly full strength quarterback in Ryan Smith.
But what Ray and his players may not have thought about is the fact that Durant, may also see this second contest with Noxapater as a chance for revenge from last season when Noxapater beat Durant twice en route to the Class 1A title game.
And home has been good to Noxapater. Before the Weir loss that saw Smith leave the game in the second quarter with the ankle sprain, the Tigers had won 18 straight games there.
Now it seems NHS has new life and is ready to start another streak. Last week in first-round action, they pounded Hamilton, which was ranked No. 4 in Class 1A, 49-0. But despite two strong outings in the past two weeks, Ray knows his team will have to play error-free football to win. He said the mindset of his players was a key and referred to a sign at one end of his practice field that reads: PERSISTENCE.
Ray said his Tigers are relatively injury-free and all starters will be ready to go.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. E-mail him at