MACON -- You can hear the frustration in Tyrone Shorter's voice.
Shorter has seen nearly everything in his 20 years with the Noxubee County High School football program. He has seen injuries ravage his team early in the season only to have the Tigers emerge in the second half to win a state championship. Shorter also has seen plenty of offensive wizardry and defense dominance in his time as assistant coach/defensive coordinator and now as head coach.
Kris Pickle envisions a time in the not too distant future that his New Hope High School football team will be 100 percent healthy.
While the Trojans slowly move forward to get all of their starters back in the lineup, other players are emerging to create depth Pickle believes will help the team make a push to the postseason.
WEST POINT -- The preparation doesn't change for the West Point High School football program.
WEST POINT -- Chris Craven isn't getting comfortable.
The Oak Hill Academy football team's third-year head coach knows a team's fortunes can change with one injury, so he doesn't plan to let his players get overconfident despite two strong outings to open Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Class AA, District 1 play.
STARKVILLE -- The hallway is a who's who of Starkville Academy football.
Of all the pictures that dot the walls leading to the team's locker room, Chase Nicholson has a perfect view of the best one. The Starkville Academy coach merely has to sit at his desk and look straight ahead through his doorway to see a bunch of Volunteers charging forward in anticipation of another game.
Carter Putt doesn't need ice when his arm is feeling good.
As a pitcher with the Heritage Academy baseball team, Putt said he didn't use ice for his shoulder or his elbow following his outings.
Putt followed a similar approach Friday after a career night in his fifth start as the varsity quarterback of the school's football team.
HAMILTON -- Toby Young made a beeline for the fence.
The Hamilton High School senior had just worked his way through the post-game handshake line and didn't want to waste another second, so he sprinted toward his team's sideline. When he spotted the poles with the blue flags, Young picked the one he wanted and set out on another sprint.
The learning opportunities continue for the Heritage Academy football team.
STARKVILLE -- Chase Nicholson believes the Starkville Academy football team might have made history last week.
The Volunteers didn't set a school record for points or have a player set a single-game mark for most yards or tackles. That didn't diminish the significance of a 34-24 victory against East Webster in a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS)-Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) matchup.
Tyrone Shorter sees the improvement.
It might sound like coach speak, but the Noxubee County High School coach feels his team played better Saturday in a 35-20 loss to Meridian than it did a week before in a 21-18 victory against Shannon.
Choices isn't just another word to Adrian Branch.
To convey the impact of that word, Branch uses more colorful ones -- like sashaying and profilin' -- and eye-catching objects -- like his $10,000 1987 NBA championship ring from his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers -- to hold the attention of the students assembled in the Columbus High School gymnasium.
WEST POINT -- Nate Montgomery and Rasson Carr first felt the bull's eye in middle school.
As part of West Point's eighth-grade team that won the Big 6 title, neither player remembered if the weight of that bull's eye carried any extra pressure or responsibility. But Montgomery and Carr remember wanting to win another championship in the ninth grade, which they did, to set the stage for their move to the varsity team.
WEST POINT -- There's no way to gauge the impact of a crunching hit on defense.
Sean Harrison walked out to the hash mark and put his arm around his Carter Putt.
Instead of ranting and raving, the Heritage Academy football coach wanted to talk to his sophomore quarterback so he could understand what he saw on the interception in the second quarter in the red zone.
STARKVILLE -- Chase Nicholson had something reinforced Friday he likely already knew: The Starkville Academy football team isn't going to quit.
Coaches still like to see their players back up their confidence in them, albeit Nicholson would have preferred to have had it happen in a victory.
Consistency can be an elusive ingredient in the first few weeks of a season.
When your program has won four state championships in the last nine seasons, the early season struggles can be particularly troublesome. Those difficulties are magnified when your team regularly faces a murderer's row of some of the state's top teams prior to district play.
Kris Pickle understands the grind of a high school football season leads to injuries.
But the New Hope High School coach didn't imagine his team would be hit by some many bumps, bruises, and setbacks three weeks into the 2017 campaign.
Everybody wants to be in Sean Harrison's position after three weeks.
At 3-0, the Heritage Academy football coach likes what he has seen from his football team. While the Patriots have posted a shutout and scored more than 40 points in two of their victories, the school's second-year head coach sees plenty of room for growth that he hopes will help fuel a deep run in the playoffs.
STARKVILLE -- It is less than a month before the official start of practice, but Blair Schaefer already is taking to a bigger leadership role.
At 12:57 p.m., Schaefer and her coach, Vic Schaefer, walked into the media room at Humphrey Coliseum three minutes early for a scheduled gathering.
WEST POINT -- Years from now, historians will look back for reasons to explain the dominance of the West Point High School football team's rushing attack.
Hard work in the weight room and on technique in the offseason always be trademarks of a program that has used a bruising ground game to win eight state titles.
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