OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA) - After winning the Class 2A state championship in 2016, Calhoun City lost to Winona in the North Half finals in 2017.
With Winona moving up to 3A, Calhoun City is guaranteed to make the playoffs in 2018, since there are only four teams in Division 2-2A.
The Wildcats host Coffeeville in next Thursday's opener.
"I think our defense is pretty solid. We just have to find some people to run the ball, catch the ball, throw the ball," said Calhoun City head coach Perry Liles. "I feel like our team has worked hard this summer so I have high expectations."
North Pontotoc is perhaps best known for its offense, but the defense could be leading the Vikings in 2018.
Following Clark Mills' graduation, three players are vying for the starting quarterback position. Four of the five starters on the offensive line must be replaced.
Linebackers Corley Hooper and Hunter Miles return after collecting more than 100 tackles each last season, and the entire secondary is back.
"We're definitely going to rely on them early in the year to provide for us, to be, I guess the standard bearer for the football team, no doubt about it," said North Pontotoc head coach Andy Crotwell.
North Pontotoc and Calhoun City played to a scoreless tie in the Oxford Jamboree on Friday.