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By JOEL COLEMAN
It wasn't that long ago the Bruce Trojans were a divisional opponent of the Ackerman Indians.
Things have changed since then, but when Bruce comes to Ackerman tonight for a 7:30 p.m. game, Indians head coach Adam Dillinger admits its still a meaningful game.
"It's time that we need to play better and perform better," said Dillinger. "We've got a couple of weeks left before district play starts and we need all the time we can get to get better."
Magnifying tonight's game for the Indians (2-2) is the fact it comes just one week after their worst showing of the season.
Last Friday, facing Houston, Ackerman jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, then surrendered 32 unanswered points to the Hilltoppers in a 25-point loss.
Dillinger says his club has spent this week trying to correct the mistakes from the Houston game.
"We worked on a broad spectrum of things," said Dillinger. "We made a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball and we're just trying to be better fundamentally, trying to play with more effort and just be a better football team in general."
Solid play will be needed for the Indians to hang with the Trojans.
Bruce (3-1) started the season on a three-game winning streak before losing for the first time last week, 20-19 to Water Valley.
Dillinger says the Trojans' strong start has been no fluke as they have plenty of talent.
"(Bruce) has a lot of good players," said Dillinger. "Their skill guys are really good. They are good on defense, and they spread the ball around on offense. They've got several folks that touch the football, throwing and running. They do a really good job of making you defend the whole field."
Even with Bruce's talent, Dillinger and the Indians believe they can hang with the Trojans.
It doesn't hurt either that Ackerman can rely back on its history against Bruce.
"They still do a lot of the same things," said Dillinger. "But it's a good game for us. It gives you a measuring stick of how you compare with other schools in other parts of the state. If you get into playoffs, you can look at these kinds of games and kind of measure yourself and see what to expect.
"I think for those reasons, it's a big game."
West Oktibbeha (2-1)
at Nanih Waiya (1-2)
West Oktibbeha begins district play tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Nanih Waiya.
Each team is coming off of firsts for tonight's contest.
West Oktibbeha lost for the first time this season last week 36-16 to Eupora.
Conversely, Nanih Waiya picked up its first victory of the year a week ago 39-9 over Pelahatchie.
The Timberwolves hope to atone for last year's 21-6 loss to the Warriors in tonight's game.
East Oktibbeha (3-1)
at Ethel (2-2)
After playing its first four games of the season at home, East Oktibbeha plays its first road game tonight, a 7:30 p.m. district contest at Ethel.
Both teams opened up district play last Friday.
East Oktibbeha defeated Sebastopol 20-9 a week ago, while Ethel lost to West Lowndes 42-22.
East Oktibbeha won last year's meeting against Ethel 48-12.
East Webster (2-2) at Walnut
A week after being shut out 24-0 on the road at Caledonia, the East Webster Wolverines travel again tonight for a 7:30 p.m. game against Walnut.
Walnut has won three in a row entering tonight's action, most recently downing Middleton (Tenn.) 48-14 last week.
Eupora (3-1) at Calhoun City (4-0)
Eupora takes a three-game winning streak on the road tonight in a 7:30 p.m. game at unbeaten Calhoun City.
The Eagles are coming off of a 36-16 win over West Oktibbeha last week.
The Wildcats are fresh off of a 43-40 triumph over Velma Jackson.