ND football v West Memphis

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 24, 2008

ND has one last hurdle to jump for playoffs

By Brad Greer
Nine weeks of football have essentially come down to one game  for the North Delta School as they play host to West Memphis, Ark. tonight, with the winner claiming the runner-up spot in the North 1A Academy playoffs that are set to begin in two weeks.

Adding to the buildup of tonight’s clash, it is also the last regular season home game for nine Green Wave seniors.

“It probably will be a little bit emotional out there before the game,” said North Delta head coach Lance Thomas. “This senior class has developed into a good leadership role for the underclassmen. They are a very close-knit group of guys. We have made the playoffs eight out of the last nine years and they would love to nothing more than to win possibly their last game at home.”

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West Memphis comes into the game with a record of  4-4 and 2-2 in the division after losing to league-leading Desoto, Ark. 14-8 last week. The Black Knights have been involved in a pair of close district wins over Delta (8-7) and Tunica (16-12) while losing games to  Marvell (32-18) and Marshall (33-20).

Senior quarterback Preston Pugh (6’; 165) will direct the Knights option offense. Pugh, the oldest son of West Memphis head coach Tim Pugh, returns to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with a knee injury. Fullback/linebacker James Chong (5’10”; 190) and sophomore Redd Smith (5’10”; 190) will join Pugh in the backfield. Sophomore linebacker Payton Pugh (5’10”; 165) and Brandon Stephens (6’2”; 335) lead the Knights on defense.

“They (North Delta) have got good size on both sides of the ball. They like to run the ball but they also can put the ball in the air as well. The two sophomore running backs are very good and they have a tall wide receiver that can go up and catch the ball. Overall, we do not match up with their size so we’ve got to do some things different. Offensively we’ve got to move the ball and shorten the game,” said Tim Pugh. “Another thing we have noticed is that North Delta has worn a lot of teams down in the fourth quarter. We dress out only 19 players so fatigue could be a problem.”

North Delta comes into tonight riding a four-game winning streak after last week’s 31-28 come-from-behind win over Tupelo Christian when Jim Tom Copeland hauled in a 32-yard pass from Bateman Greenlee with less than a minute to play.

Thomas pointed out that West Memphis is a far better team than their record shows.

“West Memphis has a good football team. They have lost some low-scoring games that they could have easily won.

“I have coached against coach Pugh for a number of years and this will be our biggest challenge. They have a very good ball control offense and will be very good on the offensive line. We have got to keep the ball out of their hands and control the tempo of the game.”