No one has to tell West Oktibbeha head coach Adam Lowrey how tough Class 2A football is.
One year ago, Lowrey and his Class A Timberwolves opened up the season with a pair of home games against West Lowndes and East Webster.
The result? Two losses by a combined score of 70-6.
Lowrey's team bites off the same challenge, this time on the road, for the first two weeks of this season beginning tonight at West Lowndes.
"Playing a 2A, it's difficult because of just the size that they have," Lowrey said. "They've got some big guys and a lot of depth."
The Timberwolves will look to overcome those factors tonight against the Panthers, but regardless of the score, Lowrey knows first-hand just how valuable these early-season tests can be.
West Oktibbeha rebounded from those two difficult battles last year to win five of its final nine games and narrowly missed the playoffs.
"We believe this first game and next week's game are really gonna prepare us for district play," said Lowrey.
One thing is certain heading into tonight's season-opener. The Timberwolves will be going to battle with more tools in the shed.
"We went from 17 people on the team to 30 since school started," said Lowrey. "That's something I don't think (West Oktibbeha) has had ever."
The extra man power should come in handy as the Timberwolves look to hang with the very athletic Panthers, whose head coach Bobby Berry says will be looking to develop a balanced offensive attack in the season's first week.
"I'd like to see us be more consistent than we were at the end of last year," said Berry. "We want to be able to run and throw and just be able to play a wide-open ballgame and not be one-dimensional."
Defensively, Lowrey believes West Oktibbeha has the ability to counter the Panthers, but he'll be keeping a keen eye on everyone's performance.
"We've got some new guys in new positions, so that's my main concern," said Lowrey. "We've got guys that can run and keep up, but I want to make sure that everyone is doing their job. Once I feel confident about that, then hopefully, when district play gets here, we'll be set. As a coach, I'd love for everything to click this week, but we're just going to have to see."
East Oktibbeha at Montgomery County
East Oktibbeha will look to open 2010 on a high note tonight on the road at Montgomery County.
Randy Brooks, who previously served as head coach when EOHS was known as B.L. Moor, replaces Anthony King, who left over the summer to become an assistant at Noxubee County.
This game was originally slated to serve as the Titans' home opener, but was moved to Montgomery County to allow East Oktibbeha's field more time to be prepared for the season.
Houston at Eupora
Last season, Eupora opened the year with a 40-14 win on Houston's home turf.
The Hilltoppers will have retribution on their minds tonight when they battle the Eagles in Webster County.
Eupora head coach Junior Graham has said it would be huge for his young Eagles to attain some early success, so a win in tonight's season opener could go a long way towards providing much-needed confidence.
East Webster at South Pontotoc
After losing their first four region games in 2009, East Webster rebounded to sneak into the Class 2A playoffs and advance all the way to the North Half semifinals before being ousted by Ackerman.
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The Wolverines hope last year's late-season surge carries over into 2010 tonight as they travel to South Pontotoc.
East Webster lost by a mere point (21-20) last season at home.