Starkville Daily News - - S -

Amory and Aberdeen. Last week, how­ever, they bounced back in a big way as Ken Topps’ team knocked off pre­vi­ously un­beaten South Pon­to­toc in a 43-42 thriller.

Net­tle­ton does it with an ex­plo­sive of­fense ca­pa­ble of big plays at any mo­ment. As a coach that hangs his hat on

win­ning on the de­fen­sive side of the foot­ball, Ash­ley has keyed in on Topps’ unit.

“You look at Net­tle­ton’s sea­son and they started off pretty hot and then lost a cou­ple of games but they’re hot again after their win over South Pon­to­toc,” Ash­ley said. “They’ve got a fright­en­ing of­fense with big, ath­letic kids at skilled po­si­tions. We’re go­ing to have our hands full.”

Ash­ley has no wor­ries about his team if ev­ery­one plays fun­da­men­tally sound. The de­fense is sec­ond in the con­fer­ence in scor­ing and has been sound all sea­son. The of­fense has come on of late and be­come tough to deal with as run­ning back Ame­ri­ous Brown has emerged as a po­ten­tial every-down back rack­ing up 11 yards per carry and is fresh off of a near-200-yard

per­for­mance last week.

“The key for us to win is sim­ple,” Ash­ley said. “We have to play great de­fense and take care of the foot­ball. If we do those things, we’ll give our­selves a chance to win. The games we’ve lost we’ve played good de­fense. (We) just haven’t taken care of the foot­ball.”

Most im­por­tantly, Ash­ley is hop­ing that his team is

men­tally pre­pared to han­dle the next three weeks and a po­ten­tial play­off run. The Charg­ers have used an un­der­dog men­tal­ity all sea­son un­der Ash­ley and that mind­set won’t change, but the re­al­ity is they are now the hunted.

With three weeks to go, Choctaw County can lock up the di­vi­sion with wins in each of the next two games. Ash­ley wants his team to have a

busi­ness-like at­ti­tude the rest of the way.

“It’s part of the process in build­ing a pro­gram,” Ash­ley said of han­dling suc­cess. “That’s the next step that we have to take. We’re go­ing to con­tinue to play with a chip on our shoul­der. This is a pro­gram that’s 5-years-old and rel­a­tively new to those around 3A so we’re try­ing to make our mark.”

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