By Robbie Robertson
Winston County Journal
There’s not a lot of change to the Noxapater football schedule — it’s just as tough as ever.
The Tigers drop East Webster off the schedule but that doesn’t mean the non-district schedule isn’t still a challenge.
The Tigers will open the season with a jamboree against Starkville Academy before opening the regular season against Montgomery County.
“This will be our fourth year in a row that we have opened with Starkville Academy,” Orr said. “It’s always a good measuring stick to see where we are at. You know they will be well coached and will battle and compete with you. It shows our guys the effort it takes to win. After that, it’s Montgomery County and that’s a chance to work out some bugs and get in four quarters of football.”
After Montgomery County, the Tigers will hit the road on back-to-back week against 2A foes J.Z. George and Union.
“Those are two really good football teams in J.Z. George and Union,” Orr said. “Union made a really good run in the playoffs last year. You just know when you play them, you are playing good football teams.”
After Union, the Tigers will have an open date on Sept. 8.
“Everybody in the district has an open date and I think that will be good for us,” Orr said. “If it had been any other week, I would have filled it. But I felt like after playing those two 2A schools, that was probably the best week to have it. I think it gives our kids a chance to heal up and start the district with fresh legs.”
The Tigers will open division play with a pair of home games against Ethel and Hamilton.
“It’s always good to open district play at home, it gives your guys a little bit more confidence,” Orr said. “We are glad to have those two games in our house. Hamilton is new to our district and they have been down the last couple of years.”
After those two games to open the division, the Tigers will be tested against Sebastopol and French Camp. Last year, Sebastopol beat Noxapater 14-0.
“That’s one we will certainly be looking forward to,” Orr said. “That was certainly an eye-opening experience for us and I know our guys will be ready to go play that one.
“And French Camp is always a big game for us. They are a good football team and always get after it. They have some good skill people coming back and you never know who might move in for them.”
Entering the last four weeks of the season, the Tigers will play three out of four games on the road with the final two games against Vardaman and Nanih Waiya.
“Leake County and West Lowndes always have good athletes,” Orr said. “They are always athletic and can run. You have to come out and perform against them.
“Then we have Vardaman and Nanih Waiya. Vardaman had a real good year last year and coach (Larry) Gann has done a good job with them. And Nanih Waiya is Nanih Waiya. I thought our kids earned a lot of respect from them last year. I think our kids are excited about getting another chance at them. I have to believe they will be the front runner for 1A this year with the two running backs coming back. But I think we proved last year that we could play with them, without a shadow of a doubt.”