By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
Before Noxapater began its football season, head coach Justin Hunter had a talk with his Tigers about trophies.
While winning region, South State and State Championships are all important, there is another trophy the Tigers take focus on each year — the Cross Creek trophy signifying the winner of the annual Noxapater-Nanih Waiya football game.
“We’ve had it over here the last couple of years, but before that I think Nanih Waiya had it for five straight years,” Hunter said. “They (the Warriors) are going to be fired up and ready to play. It’s going to be rocking over there in Nanih Waiya. We have got to match their intensity.”
The Noxapater Tigers make the short trip to Nanih Waiya on Thursday, with the kick off being set for 7 p.m.
“It’s a big game,” Hunter said. “They understand Nanih Waiya’s going to give us their best ball game and we have to give them Noxapater’s best game. It will be a four-quarter game. We are expecting a battle all the way to the end.”
The Tigers, currently ranked No. 4 in the state in MHSAA Class 1A by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, go into the game with an overall record of 6-2 and a Region 3-1A mark of 5-0. Nanih Waiya is 5-3 and 4-1.
The Tigers tuned up for Thursday’s big game with a 46-6 win over Ethel last Friday night, with most of the game being played with a running clock.
Quarterback Keontae Daniels rushed for 85 yards on just two carries to lead the winners, while hitting on 1-of-3 passes for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Noxapater scored 27 points in the first quarter against Ethel with Vonte Woods scoring on touchdown runs of 2 and 25 yards and returning a pass interception 27 yards for another one. Justin Robertson also had a 77-yard punt return for a score, while Marshall Kugle was good on three extra point attempts.
The second quarter saw Kugle haul in a 25-yard scoring toss from Daniels and Robertson score on a 55-yard run. Noxapater’s final touchdown came in the third quarter when Brandon Kugle scored on a 3-yard run.
Robertson had 55 yards rushing on just one carry for the winners, while Woods had four carries for 32 yards, Brandon Kugle five carries for 24 yards and Deandrea Whitfield 20 yards on three rushing attempts.
Nick Strehle led the Noxapater defense with five tackles, while Anthony Coburn had four tackles and Woods had three stops and picked off a pass.