Kris Pickle and the New Hope High School football team have turned the page.
MACON -- Coaches worry about everything.
The smiles were back at Heritage Academy after a week's hiatus.
At 5-foot-9, 140 pounds, Sam Taylor's name on a roster won't catch your eye if you're looking for a physical specimen.
"Don't be in a rush."
Kayla McKinion didn't hear the advice offered to her by one of the fans of the Neshoba Central slow-pitch softball team on Tuesday night. You couldn't blame the junior outfielder for being locked in. After all, the bases were loaded and a short right-field porch at Lady Trojan Field beckoned. The only thing McKinion had to do was be patient, pick out her pitch, and let the hours of practice and training help her do the rest.
STARKVILLE -- Martha Alwal doesn't like to talk about herself.
That's why you won't hear the 6-foot-4 center discussing how she earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors from the league coaches and The Associated Press last season after leading the team in scoring (14.9 points per game).
You also won't hear Alwal bragging about how she was named to the SEC's All-Defensive team for the second-straight year or how she shared its defensive player of the year award after finishing third in the league in rebounding (8.8 per game) and first in blocked shots (2.7).
Chelsey Ray knows how deadly quicksand can be.
An error can lead to another mistake and all of a sudden every member of the New Hope High School slow-pitch softball team has her head down. From there, look out because the dominoes start to fall in all of the wrong ways and, before they know it, the Lady Trojans are wondering what hit them.
WEST POINT -- Drew Riley is persistent.
The Oak Hill Academy junior running back understands the notion you stick with something until a team adjusts or stops you. But nearly three days after one of his best rushing efforts of his career, even Riley admits he would have liked coach Tony Stanford to have called a different running play, if only to add a little variety to what had the feeling of a Bill Murray-flavored evening in West Point.
The New Hope High School slow-pitch softball team couldn't have allowed itself to sink in the quicksand Saturday.
After suffering a 10-run loss to Warren Central in Game 1 of the best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A/6A North State playoff series, New Hope could have thought things weren't meant to be and started to look forward to a long nap on a four-hour bus ride back to Columbus.
OXFORD -- Will Golsan looks good in yellow.
OXFORD -- Kris Pickle was frank earlier this week when he said his New Hope High School football team has nothing to lose when it faced Oxford in a pivotal Class 5A, Region 1 game.
The playoffs are still within reach for the Columbus High School and the Heritage Academy football teams.
That's the message Columbus coach Randal Montgomery and Heritage Academy coach Barrett Donahoe want their teams to heed at 7 tonight as they prepare to face Greenville and Leake Academy, respectively, in Mississippi High School Activities Association and Mississippi Association of Independent Schools action.
George Irby always knew Elbert Drungo Jr. could make an impact without saying a word.
STARKVILLE -- Jerica James has appreciated the meaning of the word responsibility ever since she was a freshman.
Kris Pickle understands not many people would have predicted his New Hope High School football team to be undefeated entering the ninth week of the 2014 season.
MACON -- "Finish."
HAMILTON -- Sprinters have one goal in mind: Get to their destination as quickly as possible.
Sometimes, though, the quickest -- or easiest -- route to paydirt isn't a straight line. You often see that in football, when running backs, blessed with the speed to burn or to juke, stretch plays east and west in an effort to get to the corner. If they get there, all they need to do is hit the accelerator and dance down the sidelines to the end zone.
The game was there for the taking.
Despite allowing a back-breaking touchdown in the final minute of the second quarter that dropped it in a 21-point hole at halftime, the Heritage Academy football team found a spark in the third quarter.
It might not be the time for absolutes, but the Columbus High School football team needs to start winning games in Class 6A, Region 2 if it is going to advance to the playoffs.
Don't look ahead.
You can hear the caution in Kris Pickle's voice. It's natural for Pickle to be cautiously optimistic about how his New Hope High School football team has started the season. New Hope improved to 6-0 and 2-0 in Class 5A, Region 1 last Friday with a 53-35 victory against Center Hill. The victory helped push New Hope to No. 4 in The Associated Press Class 5A rankings. The win also extended the Trojans' best start to a season in at least 20 years.
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