Heated battles in Division 5-3A
LOOKING FOR MORE YARDS West Lauderdale's Christian Trussell fights for more yards as a Choctaw Central defender tries to stop him in a recent game. West Lauderdale is tied for first with Carthage in Division 5-3A heading into Friday's games. Photo by Kyle Carter/The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
Oct. 1, 2003
After four years as undefeated, undisputed champion of Division 5-3A, the Newton County Cougars relinquished their stranglehold on the league with a 31-14 loss to West Lauderdale Friday night.
The Cougars had won 27 straight games against league opponents, including two over West Lauderdale in 2001 and two over Heidelberg in 2002, before Friday's loss at Collinsville.
While the undefeated status of Newton County is clearly gone, some dispute remains as to who the cream of the crop in 5-3A is this year.
Carthage and West Lauderdale are currently at the top of the standings with 2-0 marks, while Forest is 1-0.
Newton County head coach Jeff Breland can answer McCain's question.
Carthage long-time head coach Pete Lucovich isn't conceding anything at this point.
West has improved tremendously on defense.
The last time West Lauderdale got off to a 4-1 start overall technically was in 1998, only because late in the season Kemper County had to forfeit a 34-14 win due to an ineligible player. The last time the Knights were 4-1 on the field was in 1986 when they started 5-0 en route to an 8-2 season.
Morton, a newcomer to the league this fall, was expected to be among the frontrunners. The Panthers are already 0-2 with losses to Carthage and Choctaw Central.
Even Southeast, which has lost 12 consecutive league games, isn't out of the running.
So the Tigers of Southeast find themselves in an 0-2 hole. Yet, McCain isn't about to count Dwane Taylor's crew as his next win.
That could spell trouble for West as defending passes hasn't been a strong point to date.
At 1-1, a healthy Choctaw Central team could make a run at the upper division.
As for Newton County, Breland knows his team is running out of time to put up or give up the program's recent tradition of excellence.