Itawamba comes to New Albany on Friday, bringing lots of speed on defense and talent on offense, including Ashton Shumpert.
“Their defense is very fast.,” Bulldogs head coach Ron Price said. “It was unbelievable to watch them on film and see how fast they were moving, sometimes with only three or four rushing. They’re constantly bringing pressure and blitzes from all over the field, so we’ll have our hands full on the offensive line.”
Offensively, the Indians had 219 yards on the ground without Shumpert, who rushed for 929 yards as a junior at Tupelo last year. Shumpert is questionable for Friday’s game, but the Bulldogs have prepared all week for him to play.
“We’ve been doing a lot of running, high pace, just trying to get ready for Shumpert,” free safety Chandler Nail said. “He’s been sick the last few weeks, but we’re going to get ready for him either way.”
Nail is filling in the spot left by Josh Creekmore last year and had 13 tackles last week against Ripley. The senior is also playing some on offense, finishing with 15 receiving yards last week.
“Last year, I played mainly on the defensive side, and this year having to be one of the main people on offense and defense is hard,” Nail said. “I’ve got to get in the best shape of my life.”
“Last year, I watched Josh, and wanted to play safety. We worked together in drills, hitting and running, going against each other. Last week, after I saw him, I thanked him for teaching me his ways.”
Having six turnovers on offense last week, New Albany wants to not put its defense in tough situations again this week.
“I think we can be very good on offense if we can take care of the ball, of course, and we just kept our defense on the field too much last week,” Price said. “You can only put them in tough situations so many times before they bend and break. Itawamba’s offense was very good last week, and that was without Shumpert, so when you add him in, it’s a whole new dimension.”
Friday’s game is set for a 7:30 p.m. start at Kitchens’ Field.