Willie Dixon

Leflore County’s Willie Dixon runs with the ball. Dixon and the Tigers must win tonight to extend their season.

When Region 2-2A play started four weeks ago for Leflore County’s football team, head coach Eric House knew his team would face some of the stiffest district competition in the state.

The Tigers opened with a 56-42 win over Winona High School on Sept. 29 to reach 6-1. After an open date, Leflore took on Eupora High School in a Thursday night contest on Oct. 12. The Eagles held on for a 46-40 win. And then last Friday night, the Tigers took one on the chin as Calhoun City claimed a 77-29 victory to drop the Tigers to 6-3 overall and 1-2 in league play.

All that leads up to tonight’s showdown against East Webster High School, which beat Leflore 39-16 in the first round of the North 2A playoffs in 2016. The Wolverines come into the regular season finale at 5-4 overall and 0-3 in the region.

The scenario is simple — the winner is in as the No. 4 seed and the loser is putting away its football gear.

House expects East Webster to bring its best tonight in Maben for the 7 p.m. kickoff.

“East Webster competed in its game against Winona last week. It was only 6-0 after the first quarter and 13-6 at the half,” said the Leflore coach. “East Webster has played for a state championship in the last three years, and it will be their senior night. The team that survives in this game can come out of the district and make a run in the playoffs.

“We went there last year and faced them in the playoffs. It was a packed house. It’s a very tough environment to play in with all the cowbells clanging. It’ll be a hostile place, and it will be a playoff atmosphere. We’re not going to back down from the fight. We’ve let our kids know in practice this week that we weren’t happy about last week, and we issued a challenge to them to go out and play a full four quarters.”

Calhoun City literally took the Tigers to the woodshed, The powerful Wildcats (7-2, 2-1), the defending Class 2A state champions, rushed for 439 yards and 10 touchdowns on 49 carries (8.9 yards per carry).

“It was a tough one to swallow. That was a bad game on our part, but it’s not the end of the world. The next game is always the biggest game of the season,” said House. “Sometimes you take a bruising and it makes you a better person. We still have a goal of making the playoffs in front of us. We are going to put the best 11 on the field (tonight) and go out and fight to the very end.”

House is hopeful three players who were banged up last week will be able to go Friday. Darius McClung suffered a mild knee injury in the first half and didn’t play in the second half against Calhoun. Kedarius Edwards had an ankle sprain, also in the first half, and didn’t play in the final two quarters. Maurice Edwards has been nursing a hip injury since the Eupora game and played sparingly against Calhoun City.

Calhoun City and Eupora (7-2, 2-1) meet Friday with second place on the line. Winona (7-3, 3-1) has already wrapped up first place in the district.

nContact Calvin Stevens at cstevens@gwcommonwealth.com.

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