There are a lot of COVID-related reasons this high school season has been one of a kind.
For Munford, it’s been particularly weird.
Usually this time of year Munford is facing a gauntlet of Region 7-5A games that will make or break its postseason chances. With all but two league teams sitting out the season, however, the back half of Munford’s schedule is full of non-region games that have no postseason ramifications.
Nevertheless, Cougar head coach Slade Calhoun, whose team clinched a region title nearly a month ago, says his team is motivated to finish strong.
That certainly appeared to be the case in a 27-7 victory Friday in Southaven, Miss. against Northpoint Christian.
“When I met with the team heading into the Northpoint game, I told them this is a must-win game,” Calhoun said. “We went into it like it was the playoffs or a region game that could eliminate us from the playoffs. If we’re trying to advance in the playoffs and show we’re improving, here’s a team that’s 4-1 and beat Brighton 27-8. I’m like, ‘If we’re the real deal and want to demonstrate our improvement, then this a game we’ve got to win.'”
Munford (6-2) got things done with a steady rushing attack and a defense that completely shut down Northpoint’s rushing attack.
Auvic White, who finished with 123 yards on 16 carries, got the Cougars on the board first with a two-yard TD run in the first quarter.
After Northpoint tied the scored at 7-7, Traveon Hawkins (19 carries, 102 yards) scored on a five-yard run late in the second quarter to push the lead to 14-7.
Just before halftime Jace Hodgin scored from the 12-yard line to give Munford a 20-7 lead.
“We ran the ball really well. They couldn’t really stop us,” Calhoun said. “Once we pushed that third touchdown in I was felling pretty good. We had the ball inside the 20 two more times after that and didn’t score.”
White scored again, this time on a three-yard run, midway through the third quarter and the Cougar defense took care of the rest.
Northpoint’s Hudson Brown completed 16 of 35 passes for 154 yards, but the rushing attack was non-existent, netting just one yard on 17 runs.
Jacoby Miguel led the Cougar defense with seven tackles, including two for loss, and Jake Bradley had six stops. Ben Cerniglia helped Munford win the field position battle with four punts that averaged 36 yards.
Up next for Munford is a trip to Newbern on Friday to play Dyer County. The Choctaws (5-2) have lost just one game on the field, and that came against Henry County. The team’s other loss was a COVID forfeit.
“This is a great measuring stick,” Calhoun said. “They’ve been region runner-up in that region the whole time, beat Henry County in the playoffs last year and made the semifinals. If you’re playing a team coming off a semifinal appearance, you have to be fired up for that.”