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Leflore County High School’s, from left, Draper Aldridge Jr., Kwalique Swinney and Derrick Singleton III, go through drills in practice as the Tigers prepare for Friday’s season opener against Greenwood High School at Bulldog Stadium.

Greenwood High School and Leflore County, both now part of the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District, will meet for the 10th time as they kick off their 2019 seasons Friday night.

“Greenwood is a solid program and one of the top 4A teams in the state. We like playing them because it gives us an early test to show where we are at and what we need to work on,” said Leflore County head coach Eric House. “They are well coached and have good players. Hopefully this will help us come November.”

The Tigers participated in a jamboree at Simmons High School last week. They dropped a 6-0 contest to South Delta and rebounded to beat Gentry 6-0 in their second game.

“We saw some bright spots and some areas we need to work on. Unfortunately, we are already battling the injury bug. One of our linemen, Kendarius Moore, has an illness, and our starting middle linebacker, Ivory Lampkin, has a high ankle sprain he sustained in practice last week. Neither of them will play Friday night,” House said.

“This is the reason we’ve been telling our No. 2’s they need to be ready to go. We had some key injuries last season and younger guys had to step up. I’m just hoping we can avoid all the injuries.”

Greenwood is coming off a 20-7 win over Meridian last week at the Louisville jamboree.

“The offense came out flat, and it took some time to get them going. The defense was spot on from start to finish,” said GHS head coach Clinton Gatewood. “DeAndre (Smith) was a little off at first throwing the ball, but after we gave him the opportunity to call some plays, he started to relax and play better.

“We probably left 30 points on the field. We hurt ourselves with mistakes and penalties. We know we have the weapons on offense, and we have a strong offensive line. We just need to keep working hard until it all comes together.”

The Bulldogs played in the North State 4A title game last season, falling 17-14 to Louisville.

“We have some unfinished business to take care of. We’ve been close for several years now, but we are all tired of just getting close. We control our own destiny this season.”

Gatewood finds himself in a new role this season. He is not only the head coach of the Bulldogs, but he’s also the chief of athletics for the school district, which means he also oversees Leflore County athletics, as well as Amanda Elzy.

“I’ll probably take my team through the pregame stuff, and then I’ll step back and allow my assistants to  run the show. I have faith in them to do the job. We have good people in place. We brought Booker T. Chambers on as an offensive assistant, so he will be in the pressbox on the headphones with Coach (Cary) Weaver,” Gatewood added.

Greenwood holds a 7-2 advantage and has won the last six games by a combined score of 225-52. Leflore’s last win in the series came in 2011, a 26-22 victory. Leflore won two of the first three games in the series, which started in 2009.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.

nContact Calvin Stevens at cstevens@gwcommonwealth.com.

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