Columbus High School football coach Randal Montgomery has talked about the process of helping his team learn how to win games.
As Montgomery has put his stamp on the program, the Falcons have become one of the most competitive teams in Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A play.
The anticipation has been building for Friday night's Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A, Region 1 showdown between third-ranked Tupelo and Columbus.
Columbus opened the season with some of the highest expectations in program history. At the midway mark of the schedule, the Falcons are at 3-2. Columbus easily could be 5-0. Its losses were to Noxubee County and West Point by a combined five points.
Tupelo is undefeated and will provide Columbus one of its biggest challenges to date. Columbus is 3-0 on the road and 0-2 at home this season.
While this is one the state's marquee matchups, there will be several other good games Friday night.
One doesn't need a calendar to know how important the prep football games are this weekend.
When the temperatures start dropping, it's a safe bet that region play has begun. The quest for playoff berths heats up as the weather cools down. We are barreling toward October with several teams having a lot on the table.
Let's look at the worksheet on some of our playoff hopefuls:
When the ball is in the air, East Mississippi Community College sophomore wide receiver Damion Willis feels a flutter in his heart.
"There is still nothing more exciting than running the perfect route and seeing the ball headed your way," Willis said. "It never gets old. When you are a receiver, you are not directly involved on every play. That puts the pressure on. When the ball is headed your way, you have to make a play."
Having played with fellow senior Kylin Hill for virtually all of his football career, Columbus High School senior quarterback C.J. Gholar knows when he is on the verge of seeing something special.
A Mississippi State commitment, Hill has turned in many special performances on the way to being considered one of the state's best running backs.
Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze had been patiently waiting for a complete game.
It finally came Saturday when then-No. 23 Ole Miss defeated then-No. 12 Georgia 45-14 in a Southeastern Conference game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
With the mental hurdle of playing for four quarters cleared, No. 16 Ole Miss (2-2) will face another huge challenge at 6 p.m.
Saturday when it plays host to Memphis (3-0) in its Homecoming game. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 or SEC Network Alternate.
SOUTHAVEN -- Columbus High School senior quarterback C.J. Gholar and senior wide receiver Michael McCloud have run hundreds of passing routes together.
On some late summer evenings, the close friends worked long hours in the grueling sun looking for that perfect throw and perfect catch.
Many of those routes and throws were harder to complete than the ones they attempted Friday night.
FULTON -- East Mississippi Community College sophomore wide receiver Mario Lanier didn't look the least bit winded.
He was in the minority.
"I could play four more quarters," said Lanier, a former standout at Aliceville High School. "That was fun. Let's keep the lights on and keep going."
With no field house to call home, West Point football players are having to do without the traditional countdown clock hanging on a side wall.
However, if a clock existed, it might have been set to this game even before the season started.
At 7 tonight, that time finally will arrive and give West Point a chance to end three years of misery to rival Oxford when the teams meet in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A, Region 1 opener at Hamblin Stadium in West Point.
This is a big week.
Columbus, Starkville, New Hope, and West Point begin Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) region play Friday night.
Those four teams are 11-5 as the curtain goes up on the most important part of the season.
For the Columbus High School football team, the crossroads of the season have now been reached.
Each season, the East Mississippi Community College passing game finds a rhythm.
Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze knows how close his team is to becoming one of the best in the nation.
Despite a 1-2 record, the Rebels have been competitive against one of the nation's best schedules. In losses to top-five programs Florida State and Alabama, Ole Miss squandered 21-point leads in both games.
No. 23 Ole Miss (0-1 Southeastern Conference) will try again to play a complete game at 11 a.m. Saturday (ESPN) when it plays host to Southeastern Conference rival and No. 12 Georgia (3-0, 1-0) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
WEST POINT - West Point was gracious enough to let Noxubee County perform the opening act Friday night.
SCOOBA -- In a litany of obscene offensive numbers, special teams play often gets lost in the shuffle in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges.
On Thursday night, the No. 14 East Mississippi Community College football team needed the play of its special teams to be special to win its home opener. The unit was just that and played a key role in a 54-10 victory against Northeast Mississippi C.C. before an overflow crowd at Sullivan-Windham Field.
West Point High School football coach Chris Chambless loves playing neighboring county rival games.
After falling to Starkville and beating Columbus, West Point finishes its Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) non-region slate by playing host to Noxubee County at 7 p.m. Friday at Hamblin Stadium in West Point.
Another excellent week of prep football action is on tap throughout the Golden Triangle area.
Noxubee County-West Point, Starkville-Meridian, and New Hope-Caledonia make for some outstanding matchups as teams are beginning to wind down their respective non-region schedules.
Friday night sends us past the one-third mark of the prep football season and close to the midway mark.
Region play already has begun for Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 1A schools, while Classes 5A and 6A will join next week. The following weeks, Classes 2A through 4A will swing into region action.
Mario Lanier is still learning in his second year with the East Mississippi Community College football program.
"There is so much to play on this level,"
Lanier said. "Even when you think you know it all, you learn so much more. In junior college ball, you are here and then gone in two years, so it's kind of strange. You never really quit learning and then your time is done."
Intimidation shouldn't be one of the emotions the No. 19 Ole Miss football team experiences this week while preparing for No. 1 Alabama.
That's because the Rebels (1-1) have beaten the Crimson Tide (2-0) in each of the last two seasons. At 2:30 p.m. Saturday (WCBI) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Ole Miss will try to become the first team to defeat a Nick Saban-coached Alabama squad in three consecutive seasons.
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