Damien Seales follows his blockers during Friday's jamboree game against Meridian High School. The Rockets open the season at Newton County High School this Friday night.
Damien Seales follows his blockers during Friday's jamboree game against Meridian High School. The Rockets open the season at Newton County High School this Friday night.
The Neshoba Central Rockets kick their 2013 season off Friday night when they visit Newton County in prep football action.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

"They have a very talented football team," Neshoba Central Head Coach Chuck Friend said. "They like to spread the field. They have good team speed and we have to find a way for our defense to stop them."

The Cougars finished last season with a 5-5 record. Newton County competes in Region 5-4A along with Forrest County, Northeast Lauderdale, Northeast Jones, Quitman and Greene County.

The Cougars are led by receiver-defensive back Jamoral Graham, a member of the Dandy Dozen team.

"Graham is an outstanding player," Friend said. "But they also have an outstanding running game and a good line. We have our work cut out for us."

It will be up to the Rocket linebackers and defensive secondary to try and contain the explosive Newton County offense. Cole Hodgins and Tristan Ellingburg will start at the linebacker positions while Pat Burrage and D.J. Hoskins start at the cornerbacks Devin Skinner will start at the nickel back while the safeties will be David Thames, Kavanta McCarty, James Campbell, Matt Howell, Damien Seales and Brandon Hamilton. And making up the defensive line will be by returning starter Ken Edwards and Christian Steele at the ends, and Cody Beckham and Kennedy Ferris at the tackles.

Neshoba Central finished 5-6 last season. The Rockets compete in Region 2-5A along with Ridgeland, Canton, Germantown, Pearl, Callaway, Lanier and Vicksburg.

Both Neshoba Central and Newton County played jamboree games last week. The Cougars took a 21-0 win over Union while the Rockets dropped a 24-0 decision to Meridian High School.

The Rockets finished the night with 63 total yards on offense. They had 47 yards on 17 carries and completed one pass for 16 yards.

While saying his young team has a long way to go, Coach Friend added that he saw things they could build on.

"It wasn't all bad," Friend said. "We didn't give up or stop trying.

"We said going in that our team needs to get some playing time under its belt. We are playing a lot of young kids and there is just so much we can teach in practice. They have to learn by getting out there and playing."

Junior Taylor Irby quarterbacked most of the game with Kavante McCarty, Damien Seales and Pat Burrage doing most of the running. Friend said the starting quarterback position was still up in the air going into this game.