Defensive back, Jihada Hoskins (8), closing in on a receiver.
Defensive back, Jihada Hoskins (8), closing in on a receiver.
The Neshoba Central Rockets open their 2014 football season Friday night when they host Newton County.

It will be the Rockets' first regular season game under Head Coach Stacy Luker but not their first action. Last Friday night, the Rockets played host to Meridian High School in a two-quarter jamboree game. And while the Wildcats won the game 16-0, the Rockets showed they aim to improve on last year's 1-10.

"We are a work in progress," Luker said. "I thought our defense played hard and made some big plays. They played hard. They bowed their necks and made plays."

Meridian took the opening kickoff and drove 77 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown. Senior Wildcat quarterback Jamarius Smith scored on a three-yard run. The extra point was good and Meridian High School led 7-0.

Neshoba Central took the ball and ran nine plays, picking up two first downs. An interception ended that effort.

Meridian took over on the 50-yard line and drove down to the Rockets' 18-yard line before running out of downs. This was one of two stands that the Rocket defense made to keep the Wildcats out of the end zone. Linebacker Cole Hodgins made a couple of big stops on that effort.

Neshoba Central ran 10 plays before fumbling the ball away. Meridian took over and pushed the ball down to the Neshoba Central nine-yard line before the Rocket defense held on fourth down.

The Rockets were then forced to punt on fourth down and the ball was snapped over the punter's head and out of the end zone for a safety.

Meridian would score one more time before time expired.

The Rockets finished the night with 79 yards of total offense. Neshoba Central had 71 rushing yards on 11 carries. James Campbell led the Rockets in rushing with 35 yards on 10 carries while Kavonte McCarty had 32 yards on seven carries. Sophomore quarterback Adam Shoemaker threw the only Rocket pass completion to Taylor Irby.

David Thames led the Rocket defense with seven tackles while Jordan Horne and Dez Hernandez both had five tackles.

Neshoba Central now turns its attention to Newton County. Last year, the Cougars defeated the Rockets 47-14. Newton County scored on a couple of long plays to defeat Union 12-6 in the Lake Jamboree.

"We don't know that much about Newton County," Luker said. "Right now, it is so important for our team to get off to a good start.

"I saw some good things in the jamboree and there are things we are going to have to work on. Right now, this is a big game for us and we have to get ready."