Coverage Recap: Madison Central 38 | Tupelo 17
Senior quarterback Jack Walker and the Madison Central Jaguars(10-3-1) completed the most impressive feat of Friday night. They went on the road, into the hostile Flood Zone, and handed the Tupelo Golden Wave(12-1) their first of the season.
Not only did they get the win, which might remind you of their big win over South Panola, who was then the 6A favorite, in the playoffs a season ago, but they added some style points. The final score was 38-17, but frankly, it wasn’t as close as the score would indicate.
It wasn’t just Walker and the offense, though, as the Jaguar defense put on quite the performance against a Golden Wave offense that put up 45 points last week on Northwest Rankin.
Not only did the Jags forced key fumbles during the few drives where Tupelo managed to find someone success, but they stalled the Stephon McGlaun, Jaquerrious Williams and the Wave offense for most of the night. Most of that could be credited to the team speed Madison Central possesses on that side of the ball.
Every time Williams, or LaBryant Siddell for that matter, would take a handoff the gaps and lanes just seemed to close so quickly. Even when there seemed to be space in front of ball carriers, a Jag defender would quickly appear and make a solid, open-field tackle.
Also key was containing red-hot sophomore signal caller McGlaun. He was 12/17 a week ago, but on this night he was only able to break one long run and connect on a few big passes. He was clearly forced out-of-rhythm all night long by a seasoned, Eric Robertson-led defensive unit. Additionally, he threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a score by Braden Boykin.
Offensively Madison Central, on the legs of Walker and running back Gabe Short, was just more physical than the Tupelo defense. Walker stated as much in my postgame conversation with him(which you can find on my Twitter timeline - @JLgrindinSES). Walker set the tone, with some physical runs on third downs and short distances to go. Short loves that style of running and also proved to be tough to bring down throughout the night.
Looking ahead to next week, the Jaguars will have another big challenge in Cam Akers and the Clinton Arrows. The Arrows are the only team to have spent as much time at the top of the SES Mississippi polls as Tupelo. So, it’s another titan for Madison Central to take down. It should be a match-up between veteran quarterbacks that you do not want to miss.
SES Mississippi Player of the Game: Jack Walker
Hard not to go with Walker, who got it done with his legs and his arm in this game, including reaching pay dirt through the air and on land. Not only that, but he set a tone for his teammates to match and they did all night. He just knows how to turn up and win on the biggest stages.
For Trent Hammond and Tupelo, this has to be a gut-wrenching loss. In fact, coach Hammond posted on Facebook, sharing that sentiment late Friday night. To have your first loss come in the final game of your season must be tough to wrap your mind around. This Golden Wave group will never get the chance to respond to their first bit of adversity on the season.
With a young backfield - McGlaun and Williams are both sophomores - expect Tupelo to be right back in the thick of things next season. But this one will sting for a while, that was easy to see on the faces of players and coaches on the sidelines during the final minutes of this game. They knew they had a team capable of a title this season, but just happened to run into a team playing their best, which happened to be better than what Tupelo displayed last night.
Next week when Madison Central travels to face Clinton it will be a rematch of a game from September 23rd between the Arrows and Jaguars. Akers and Clinton took that one by a final score of 30-21. As Warren Central learned against Clinton last night, it’s hard to beat a team twice in one season. We’ll see if the Arrows can do just that to Madison Central next Friday night.