By JOEL COLEMAN
For the Ackerman Indians and East Webster Wolverines, the second season is about to begin.
Though each team has battled through six non-division games to begin the 2011 season, Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger says all the momentum, all the wins and everything that has happened to this point means very little once the Indians and Wolverines open Class 2A, Region 2, District 4 play tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Cumberland.
"We tell the kids we're 0-0," said Dillinger. "We told them that last year when we were 1-5 and told them that two years ago when we were 6-0. This point in the season, we're 0-0 and these are the ones that count."
Ackerman (3-3) enters tonight's contest fresh off of a 14-0 win over Caledonia last week.
The Indians won that game without the services of running back K.J. Woods, who was out with a leg injury.
Dillinger said he was unsure if Woods would be available for tonight's game.
With or without Woods however, Dillinger believes his Indians have their work cut out for them against the Wolverines.
"They're scrappy," said Dillinger. "They're going to play hard and they're going to get after it. I think defensively, they're very good. They've had some issues on offense, but their defense is playing extremely well.
"We worry about moving the ball on them. They're gritty and they're like that on offense as well. I think they are going to end up finding their rhythm on that side of the ball eventually, but I hope it's not this week."
Offensive troubles indeed doomed East Webster in its game last week, a 21-0 loss to St. Andrew's.
For the Wolverines (3-3), it was the second time they had been shut out in three weeks, following a 24-0 loss to Caledonia on Sept. 9.
Like Dillinger though, East Webster head coach Doug Wilson understands the past is the past and from here forward, the slate is clean.
"We told the kids it's a new season," said Wilson. "We've put all the negative stuff behind us from the last few ball games and we're starting over. These are the games that really count."
Wilson says, for East Webster to have its best chance at success tonight, it will once again have to perform well defensively.
Still, Wilson knows even a strong defensive performance won't help if the Wolverines can't put points on their brand-new scoreboard.
With the scoreboard used for the first time in last week's shutout loss to St. Andrews, Wilson says his club has to find a way to put a crooked number or two up on the board to down Ackerman.
"We had (the new scoreboard) up last week but failed to use it," joked Wilson. "We didn't put any points up on the right end of it. But it does look good and hopefully we'll use it this week."
West Oktibbeha (3-2) at Sebastopol (1-4)
West Oktibbeha hopes to take advantage of a scuffling team tonight when the Timberwolves travel to Class A, Region 3, District 4 foe Sebastopol for a 7:30 p.m. game.
Sebastopol has dropped its last three contests, all district games, most recently surrendering 68 points to Pelahatchie in a 68-35 loss last week.
Meanwhile, West Oktibbeha rebounded nicely last week after a pair of tough losses.
After the Timberwolves fell to Eupora 36-16 on Sept. 8 and lost to Nanih Waiya 50-14 on Sept. 16, West Oktibbeha got back to its winning ways with a 38-8 triumph over Weir last week.
"It feels good to get back on track," said Timberwolves quarterback Von Smith after beating Weir. "We work hard and we came off the Nanih Waiya game hungry."
J.Z. George (0-6) at Eupora (3-2)
Eupora opens up Class 2A, Region 2, District 4 play tonight, hosting winless J.Z. George at 7:30 p.m.
It has been a season full of difficulties for J.Z. George, who has been outscored this season by a combined total of 248-46.
A lot of the damage against the Jaguars has actually come in the last two weeks as J.Z. George has been shut out in back-to-back games, falling 44-0 to Marshall on Sept. 16 before losing 37-0 to Water Valley last week.
Eupora will look to take advantage of J.Z. George's struggles and get itself rolling again. After a three-game winning streak following an opening-week loss to French Camp, Eupora was defeated 20-6 by Calhoun City on Sept. 16.
The Eagles had a bye last week.