• John Macon Gillespie

FloodZone lives up to name, provides electric atmosphere

Friday night’s matchup between Tupelo and Shannon represented a rivalry that stretches back to when my parents were in high school in the 80’s. The rivalry has seen times in which it was fiercer, however.

The Golden Wave used two interceptions by sophomore linebacker Jet Johnson on Shannon’s first two possessions to jump up 15-0. They would never relinquish their momentum, or their lead, going on to win 55-16.

There were story lines coming in, but those did not prevail as the game was never in doubt.

A promo video was released by Tupelo’s WTHS prior to the contest on friday in which former Shannon receiver Jaylen Pounds, who now plays for Tupelo, was shown ripping off a Shannon jersey. The Lee County schools proceeded to flood twitter with the emotion and passion that makes the rivalry what it is.

There were many standouts on both sides for the Golden Wave. On offense, quarterback Daniel Bristow really showed his senior prowess, as he has grown into an effective dual-threat playmaker. He threw for two scores and added another on the ground.

Defensively, the alpha dog was Tupelo’s sophomore inside linebacker Jett Johnson. He delivered ferocious hits all night and always seemed to find the ball, as shown by his two picks. Perhaps even more impressive is that he makes most of the defensive calls for a defense that should prove to be one of the state’s best under the tutelage of head coach Trent Hammond.

“The coaches have prepared me well. I’m trying to get the respect of the guys,” Johnson said following Friday’s win. “I’m going to try to keep making those calls, stay humble and have fun.”

Outside of the result and what this means for two teams seemingly headed in different directions, one thing will stick with me going forward this season. Tupelo, a high school I graduated from in 2012, put forth one heck of an atmosphere on Friday night. Tupelo broadcasts most of their games online, but you had to be there on friday night.

From the time the “TUPELO boys,” the Golden Wave’s spirit squad, led the team onto the field and the student section went bonkers until the final horn, it was fun to be in that atmosphere. At one point, fake smoke was released into the student section and a roar went across the stadium. The stands were packed for most of the game, despite it being a blowout from the get go. If you have a chance to come see a game in the affectionately and appropriately named “FloodZone,” you really should do it.

Tupelo sports information director, teacher and architect of the famous hashtag “#themblankets,” Braden Bishop had this to say about the environment from Friday night:

“It was probably the most electric atmosphere I’ve seen there in six years.”

Those are strong words coming from Mr. Tupelo, himself.

Looking towards next week, Tupelo(2-1) will go on the road to face the Brandon High Bulldogs. Shannon(1-1) will return home to face the Okolona Chieftains.

**Video courtesy of Tupelo SID T. Braden Bishop.

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