The next two weeks will likely determine whether the new-look Delta Streets Academy football team is a state title contender or pretender.

First the Lions (3-1) must drive two hours north to West Helena on Friday to face DeSoto (4-0), ranked by MaxPreps as the top team in Arkansas. Then DSA takes a trip to Yazoo City the following week for a date with the reigning undefeated state champion, Manchester Academy.

Fortunately for first-year head coach Travis Upshaw, his Lions are starting to click on both sides of the ball at the right time. With the addition of four transfers from nearby public schools, it’s clear that DSA is fielding the most talented roster in its brief seven-year history. In what figures to be the final year before the program leaps to the 11-man level, just how far can the Lions go?

According to Upshaw, the answer actually depends more on DSA’s defense than its highlight-reel offense. In eight-man football, it can be easier to score in bunches because there’s more open space to exploit on the field.

But the Lions have been staunch so far, notably limiting Louisiana powerhouse Tallulah Academy to just 22 points a couple weeks back. The unit is led by hard-hitting linebacker La’Andre Pittman, an Amanda Elzy transfer who anchors the front seven along with former Leflore County rival Edgar Swims.

Fellow Leflore transfer Dekari “Turbo” Johnson is also finding his footing ­­in the secondary, hauling in two interceptions during last week’s 50-28 win against Lee (Arkansas) Academy. Even 6-foot-3 quarterback Dequarionne Jones, also a Leflore transfer,  can turn into a lockdown corner if needed.

• Contact Riley Overend at 581-7237 or Follow @OverendOut on Twitter.

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