One coaches at a private school, and the other coaches at a public school. One coaches at an academy that has a student body that is nearly all white, while the other works at a predominately black school. But when it comes to coaching high school football, the coaches face similar situations.
SCOOBA — One week from today the East Mississippi Community College football team will begin its 2009 season with a non-division matchup against Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson. EMCC coach Buddy Stephens’ Lions enjoyed record-setting success last season en route to a Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College North Division title, the school’s first playoff berth since 1984, and a No. 10 national ranking in the final NJCAA / JC Football.com poll. The top-10 ranking was the first since 1963.
STARKVILLE — The installation of the spread offense is complete at Mississippi State. Now, the cleaning process begins.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado and his family have agreed to pay his way for his senior season of basketball. By giving up his scholarship, Varnado makes it easier for the Bulldogs to fit 14 players into the 13 scholarship limit mandated by the NCAA.
The Nettleton High School and the Amory High football teams hope to use a rivalry game to start the season with a victory. Nettleton coach Jack Clark and Amory coach Pat Byrd believe the rivalry will be good for their boys. “(The rivalry) has a positive impact for our kids. We’ve played each other 15 times in the last 20 years,” Clark said. “They have probably won 13 of those games, but even though it is one-sided it is always a competitive game.”
STEENS — Just about everything will be new for the Immanuel Christian girls soccer program in 2009. The hope for this season is that all of the new players who have joined the program will help the Lady Rams make a return trip to the playoffs. Fifth-year coach Ray Campbell and the Lady Rams will kick off the season at 4 p.m. today when they play host to Indianola.
Consider the apology accepted. Krisi Boren is only in her second year as girls soccer coach at Heritage Academy, but she has been around soccer and student-athletes long enough to have seen plenty of things. Boren faced something after her team’s season-opening victory against Marshall Academy she didn’t expect. After the game, freshman forward Tori Fields apologized to Boren for not giving her best effort. The apology was unsolicited and caught Boren off guard.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State students were welcomed back to campus Monday afternoon with the season’s first pep rally at the drill field. A gathering of several hundred students listened to MSU President Mark Keenum, Starkville mayor Parker Wiseman, and MSU football coach Dan Mullen speak in a steady drizzle. The MSU cheerleaders and band also were present to help energize the crowd.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen has been optimistic about his chances of having first baseman Connor Powers in the middle of his lineup in 2010. On Monday, those hopes were realized as Powers announced he will return to Mississippi State for his senior season. “I’m excited about it and think it was the right decision,” Powers said. “With all factors included, I think, without a doubt, it was the right thing to do.”
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State men’s basketball signee Renardo Sidney is one step closer to being able to get on the court with the Bulldogs. The NCAA Eligibility Center on Monday cleared Sidney academically, which allowed him to enroll in fall classes. Although the issues with his status as an amateur remain unresolved, Sidney can participate in preseason individual and conditioning workouts with the team.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State senior running back Anthony Dixon pled guilty last week driving under the influence. The plea was entered by his attorney Jay Perry so Dixon could avoid Monday’s court date at Starkville Municipal Court. It remains unclear what punishment MSU coach Dan Mullen has decided to impose on Dixon, who was arrested July 18 in Starkville. Dixon, who was fined $500, was charged with driving under the influence, careless driving, and not having proof of insurance.
John Dixson is a pioneer. Dixson, 43, can remember the “dark” days when nearly anything went in Mixed Martial Arts. Bare knuckles, groin shots, elbows, no time-limit matches — you name it and Dixson probably has seen it and dished it out in more than 13 years of competition around the world. Looking back to the origins of MMA, Dixson is surprised the sport has grown so quickly in a relatively short amount of time.
Nearly all the coaches contacted Saturday night were pleased with their teams’ performances Friday night in jamboree/scrimmage action across the state. Some, like Immanuel first-year Shawn Gates, might have gotten a little hoarse from all of the excitement. But many of the coaches and teams won’t have a lot of time to spend fine-tuning things. The majority of Mississippi High School Activities Association schools in the area will play classic games Friday, while Mississippi Association of Independent Schools also will kick off the season Friday.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen knew poor field conditions were going to prevent the Bulldogs from playing games last season. The lack of adequate drainage at Dudy Noble Field after inclement weather led to the cancellation of the final game of the Nicholls State series March 1, the Mississippi Valley State game March 31, and the middle game of the Alabama series May 2. Cohen believes the renovations to the baseball field will help improve the team’s chances of playing all its home games every year.
STARKVILLE — Starkville Quarterback Club President Larry Graves is excited about the prospects for a good year. The club, which promotes Mississippi State football throughout the season, begins its 44th season of meetings Sept. 3. Meetings are held on each Thursday night during the season at the Starkville Country Club on Montgomery Street. A social hour begins at 6 p.m. The meal, announcement of door prizes, and speakers starts at 7 p.m.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen hates to see the last week of two-a-day practice sessions end. Mullen liked the home-away-from-home setting at the intramural fields across campus and wished he had more time there. “The players came out and battled,” Mullen said. “They came out with the right attitude. There were really hard practices Saturday.” With the start of classes Monday, the Bulldogs will return to the team practice fields Tuesday. The team is scheduled to hold meetings, to have brunch, to visit the team chapel, to watch film and to lift weights today.
STARKVILLE — The Starkville High School football team showed its fans Thursday night what it can do in a one-hour scrimmage. The scrimmage was part of “Meet the Players Night,” and Starkville High football coach Bill Lee was careful not to show too much because Noxubee County coach M.C. Miller was one of several coaches at the game. The Yellow Jackets will take on the defending Class 4A state champions Aug. 21 in Macon.
The New Hope High School slow-pitch softball team is going to have a little bit of everything this season. The Lady Trojans are young and inexperienced at several positions. Coach Tabitha Beard’s team also has an assortment of “older” players who have been with the program for two to three years and who are used to advancing deep into the playoffs and competing for state titles. Last season was no exception.
FULTON — Evan Lackey wants to help the Itawamba Community College football team get back to the playoffs. One year after playing at ICC, Anthony Lackey, Evan’s brother, wants to help his new team at Kentucky Wesleyan reach the same goal. Evan Lackey will begin that journey at 5 p.m. today when ICC plays Copiah-Lincoln in a scrimmage at Lambert Stadium. The game action will be the first for the former Amory High School standout, who has impressed the coaches in the past few months.
STARKVILLE — Nothing Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen saw Thursday in the team’s first full scrimmage of the season gave one quarterback an edge. After observing the two-hour scrimmage, Mullen said senior Tyson Lee, of Columbus, and sophomore Chris Relf are “dead even.” Mullen went on to say it probably would be a three-man race if freshman Tyler Russell had enrolled at MSU in January and would have participated in spring practice.