Carroll Academy head coach Bo Milton knows it. So do his players. Friday night’s tilt with Indianola Academy feels much different than last week’s contest with Newton County Academy.
This will be the Rebels’ second game in District 2-3A play, while it will be the Colonels’ third contest. IA is 2-0 with wins over Central Holmes (34-8) and Winona Christian School (48-34) under its belt. Carroll is 1-0 in league play as it beat Benton Academy 42-7 three weeks ago.
“It’s been slightly different this week,” Milton said. “We all know what this game means. We are focused solely on Indianola. Our kids and coaching staff know there is a lot riding on this game.”
Carroll, which is 4-0 after its 59-0 win over Newton last week, needs to beat Indianola and top Winona Christian next week to have a chance at winning the district title. IA can wrap up first place with a victory Friday in Carrollton based on the fact it would own the tie-breaker over Carroll and Winona.
The Colonels still have a game with Benton on Oct. 2, and Carroll has to play Winona next week and Central Holmes on Oct. 23.
Indianola has been to the state title game in Class 3A the past five years and won it all in 2016. The Colonels are coached by Tommy Nester, who once roamed the sidelines as head coach at Carroll in the 1990s.
“We’re playing better each week,” said Nester. “We don’t have a lot of size, but our kids play hard. We’ve had some tough battles already this season.
“Carroll is a team that brings tenacity. They love the game of football, and they take on the personality of their coach. They are physical up front, and they don’t have just one back you have to contain. They have a bunch of good ones. We will have to play good team defense and win the turnover battle to have a chance at winning this game.”
Indianola opened the season with a 7-6 loss to Bayou Academy and a 27-16 setback to Pillow Academy, both 5A programs.
The Colonels have won three straight games, which includes last week’s conference win over Winona Christian.
The Rebels had little trouble with Newton as they raced out to a 39-0 lead after the first quarter. They led 45-0 at the half and 59-0 after the third period.
Carroll didn’t have as much offense as usual, but that’s because touchdowns were scored in other ways. Braxton York returned two punts for touchdowns, Noah Beck returned a kickoff for a score, and Cooper Beck picked up a fumble and raced into the end zone. He also had a safety when he tackled a Central Holmes player in the end zone.
Milton knows the Rebels will have to take care of business if they are going to beat Indianola.
“They are well-coached and do the little things right,” the veteran coach said. “They are solid on defense, and their offense isn’t too bad. They put up 48 points on Winona last week. They have been through the battles. They’ve played in five straight state championship games. This is big-game atmosphere. They are used to it, and I believe our kids are going to play their best.
“Indianola lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team, but they played a lot of sophomores who are playing this season. We’ve got to get after them.”
Carroll beat Indianola 45-13 last season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Gordon Field in Carrollton.
• Contact Calvin Stevens at 581-7234 or email@example.com.