By Robbie Robertson
Winston County Journal
Throughout the years, Louisville has always played one of the tougtest football schedules in the state and 2017 won’t be any different.
The Wildcats will play two defending state champions this season along with a host of teams that are expected to contend for state championships.
The Wildcats will open the season with a scrimmage against Starkville on Saturday, Aug. 12 at Mississippi State.
“We will have a real chance to see what we have,” coach M.C. Miller said. “It’s a good experience playing up there and playing a 6A school that’s going to be pretty good. You want to play somebody who is going to be stronger than you to see what you have and they are going to be pretty good.”
The Wildcats will then open the regular season on the road against Holmes County, who went 5-7 last year. Back for the Jaguars is Robert Jackson, who led the team in rushing with 1,312 yards and 17 touchdowns on 126 carries.
“I have seen Holmes in 7-on-7 and they have good athletes. They should be really strong. They’ve got two good running backs and will mainly be a running team. And the quarterback can run and throw pretty well so we will have to be ready on defense.”
Then the Wildcats get defending Class 5A state champion West Point in the home opener on Aug. 25. Last year, West Point beat Louisville 33-13 and returns running back Marcus Murphy who had 1,756 yards rushing on 243 carries.
“They also have a good running back coming back and won 5A last year,” Miller said. “I don’t know where they are going to put him but they will have a good running team. Their offense is supposed to be their strong point. We will have to play really strong on defense.”
It doesn’t get any easier the next week when the Wildcats travel to DeKalb to take on Class 3A state champion Kemper County, who beat the Wildcats 32-27 last year.
“I know Coach Jones is gone to Starkville but he was telling me that he felt like if he had stayed that he could have won 3A again this year with what he had coming back,” Miller said. “When you play the 5A champion and the 3A champion in two straight weeks, that’s pretty good competition right there. We just have to stay healthy through that stretch.”
On Sept. 8, the Wildcats will return home to take on Ripley, who was 6-5 last season.
“We didn’t play Ripley last year but almost met them in the playoffs,” Miller said. “They are supposed to have most of their players back and be one of the top runners in 4A as well.”
After Ripley, the Wildcats will host Grenada, who was 9-3 last year and coached by Louisville native Ashley Kuhn. They were led by Deon Stokes, who rushed for 1,319 yards on 197 carries and scored 15 touchdowns.
“They are supposed to be really good again,” Miller said. “They are a bigger school. Their coach is from over here in Louisville and does a good job with them. It seems like everybody we are playing is making a run at a state championship.”
On Sept. 22, the Wildcats will make the long road trip to Greenwood, who was 8-4 last year.
“That’s a pretty good road trip,” Miller said. “They have been trying to break the ice and get into that state championship game. They should have one of the better offensive and defensive fronts in the state. If you are good up front, you can basically do whatever you want.”
he Wildcats will then open division play against New Hope, who is dropping down from Class 5A and beat Louisville 27-26 last year and went 6-5 last year. Senior wide receiver Jeremy Tate is the top returning player for New Hope after 727 yards receiving on 46 catches with 11 touchdowns.
“When they dropped down from 5A, I suspect they think they can be the kings of this league,” Miller said. “They will be one of the top teams along with Noxubee. Winning that first game is very important.”
After New Hope, the Wildcats will open October with rival Noxubee County, who beat the Wildcats 34-26 last year and went 9-5 on the season.
Noxubee thinks they can win it again this year and we have to be there to stop them,” Miller said. “They have their quarterback and some good offensive linemen back. They think they can win it and so do we so it will be a tough game.”
The Wildcats get a break in the middle of division play against Class 3A Forest but Miller says his squad will have their hands full.
“Forest has some of the best wide receivers I’ve seen this year,” Miller said. “They look like they are all 6-3, 6-4 and will all go up and get the football. And I’ve got these little cornerbacks. It’s going to be a challenge.”
The Cats return on Oct. 20 for homecoming against Kosciusko and finish the regular season with Leake Central.
“Kosciusko played us really hard last year,” Miller said. “They’ve got a whole new coaching staff and looks like they are getting that wing-T cranked up. It’s just really hard to prepare for.
“Leake Central also has a new coaching staff and it looks like he has them going in the right direction. They beat us once in 7-on-7 at Mississippi State. They are certainly throwing the ball better than they have in the past.”