Jorge Luna and NSM host rival Ider to begin Class 2A Region 7 play Friday night.

The season 2021 high school football season is only a couple of weeks old, but North Sand Mountain head football coach Keith Kirby believes his team has already arrived a gut-check moment.

Following a lackluster jamboree performance two weeks ago, the Bison suffered a 51-0 loss to state-line rival Dade County (Georgia) in Week 1 in which the visiting Wolverines scored 37 second-half points.

“We faced some adversity and fought for a while and then we didn’t,” Kirby said. “We’ve got to play with enthusiasm, play with heart, the whole game. We’re going to have to figure things out and figure things out quickly with region play starting. The season is still young, but we’re at a crucial point already.”

No. 9-ranked NSM (0-1), the reigning region champion, opens Class 2A Region 7 play Friday at home against another rival, Ider. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Lloyd Dobbins Field in Higdon.

It’s the 49th meeting between the schools — Ider is NSM’s second-most played opponent and the teams have played for the past 46 consecutive seasons — with Ider leading the series 28-20. NSM has controlled the series of late, winning five straight and eight of its last 10 games against the Hornets.

Ider (1-1) opened the season with a 53-0 win over Woodville on Aug. 19 before falling 28-14 to Class 3A No. 6-ranked Plainview last Friday. The Hornets are coached by Chad Grant, a former NSM assistant who was the offensive coordinator at Buckhorn the past three seasons prior to taking over at his alma mater.

Key players for the Hornets are quarterback Dylan Grant, running backs/defensive backs Hunter Robinson and Matthew Norman and tight end/linebacker Jesse Massey.

“Ider’s a really good solid football team that plays hard, fast and physical. We’ve got to match their intensity,” Kirby said. “They want to establish the run and then they’ll hit you with the play-action (pass). Defensively they play tough.”

Kirby said Tuesday that the Bison responded well at practice to start their Ider-game preparation week, and he’s hopeful that’s a sign of what’s to come.

“We came out Monday and had a good physical practice that was pretty good,” Kirby said. “We’ve got to be physical up front and we’ve got to make plays when we get the opportunity to and cut out the penalties (in order to win). We’ve got to step up.”

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