Rivalry games always are intense. But as much as Heritage Academy football coach Brad Butler is looking forward to tonight’s matchup (7) against Starkville Academy, he is more excited that the game will be the Class AAA, District 1 opener for both teams. To Butler, that fact is crucial for the Patriots (2-0), who will try to build on the momentum they earned last week in a come-from-behind 13-12 victory at Winston County.
Coaches can prepare for spread offenses or dart-quick running backs. They also can devise schemes to frustrate even the strongest pass rush. But New Hope High School football coach Michael Bradley discovered another opponent this week that is even tougher: Sickness. The Trojans (1-0) had 24 players miss practice at some point this week as they prepared to take on Amory (0-2) at 7:30 tonight. The flu bug that is affecting the state played a role in more than 100 students being absent Thursday from New Hope High.
David Boykin admits his football team doesn’t have anything to gain tonight. If the Class 4A Caledonia High School Confederates beat the Class 2A West Lowndes Panthers, no one will raise an eyebrow because it is what is expected. But if the Panthers travel to Caledonia and earn the victory, people will be surprised. Boykin hopes his players will be ready to prevent that from happening.
WEST POINT — Michael Carr doesn’t need a DVD player. He doesn’t need a remote control for a VCR. The West Point High School senior has all the pictures and replays he needs in his head. They’re one he would like to forget. Carr has had two weeks to relive the memory of Shannon’s 27-20 season-opening victory against West Point.
The colors he was wearing were different, but it was impossible not to recognize the face. So as Bubba Davis climbed the bleachers on the home side of West Point High School’s Hamblin Stadium, he stopped to greet multiple well-wishers. Davis smiled as he talked to the fans who were there on that May evening to watch the spring game between Louisville and West Point.
SCOOBA –– Preseason All-America quarterback Randall Mackey passed for two touchdowns and rushed for 77 yards to lead the No. 6 East Mississippi Community College Lions past Jones Community College 28-17 in its home opener Thursday at Sullivan-Windham Field. Mackey wasted no time moving the football down the field on the Lions’ first possession. Taking the ball on its 27, EMCC mixed two rushing plays by Mackey and passes of 10 and 14 yards to T.J. Ballou and Marcus McQuarley, respectively. Wide receiver Bill Franks hauled in a 36-yard pass to give the Lions’ a 6-0 lead with barely two minutes elapsed into the contest. Brett Spencer split the uprights for the extra point and a 7-0 lead.
STARKVILLE — There doesn’t appear to be a quarterback controversy between Mississippi State’s Tyson Lee, of Columbus, and Chris Relf. That doesn’t mean there’s not competition. Lee, the senior who started for the Bulldogs last season, and Relf, the sophomore, have worked in the spring and into fall camp to see who will get the most playing time in coach Dan Mullen’s spread offense.
It will be a game of firsts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU) when Mississippi State plays host to Jackson State. From a historical factor, the matchup is the first in football between teams from the Southeastern and Southwestern Athletic conferences. It also is the beginning of the coach Dan Mullen era at Mississippi State. Mullen said those two things add to the anticipation as kickoff nears.
Beware the sneak attack. The Central Academy fast-pitch softball team can’t pinpoint its origin. The Lady Vikings never know when it’s going to come. But when the sneak attack arrives, hits are sure to follow. On Tuesday, scorekeeper/assistant coach Pam Dawkins provided the fuse and Corey Dawkins, Kellie Hailey, and Blake Rigdon helped light the fire that sparked the Lady Vikings’ sneak attack.
Jackson State senior linebacker Marcus Jamison is looking forward to being part of history on Saturday. That’s the day Jackson State will play Mississippi State for the first time in school history. Jamison is eager to take the field for the game that will kick off at 2:30 p.m. at Mississippi State’s Scott Field and be aired on ESPNU. “I’m very excited,” Jamison said. “I’m so excited it will put a smile on my face. But I’ve got my game face on, too. I’m so excited. This game means a lot to me. It means a lot to Jackson, Miss.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State senior tailback Anthony Dixon skipped out to the practice field Tuesday afternoon and yelled out “let’s go.” The question remains, will Dixon be allowed to go for the Bulldogs on Saturday? It appears more and more that Dixon’s status will be a gametime decision for MSU football coach Dan Mullen.
STARKVILLE -- By growing up only 10-15 minutes away from the Jackson State campus, it would have been easy for Mississippi State senior offensive guard Craig Jenkins to stay home to play college football. It was also tempting because Jenkins had two cousins and two aunts go to school at Jackson State. On top of that, many of his friends from Pearl High School are in school at Jackson State.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State’s secondary did a decent job against the pass last season. The unit ranked fourth in the Southeastern Conference and 17th in the country in pass defense, only allowing 176.6 yards per game. The Bulldogs had a veteran presence in the secondary with the safety trio of Derek Pegues, Keith Fitzhugh and De’mon Glanton, and cornerback Jasper O’Quinn. The problem for MSU is they were all seniors last season. Senior cornerback Marcus Washington is MSU’s most experienced returning player in the secondary with 19 career starts. The rest of the unit has a grand total of two starts. Both of those belong to junior safety Zach Smith.
STARKVILLE — Dorey Gray thought she knew how to set a volleyball. The Mississippi State senior didn’t think she was perfect, by any means, but after seven or eight years she believed she was proficient as a setter. In less than a year, MSU first-year coach Jenny Hazelwood has introduced Gray to a new way of playing her position.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State sophomore offensive guard Quentin Saulsberry knows it will be important for the Bulldogs to establish a running game this season. Even though MSU is set to run a spread offense with coach Dan Mullen, Saulsberry said that doesn’t mean there will be more pass than run.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen isn’t releasing details on two key issues about his team as he enters his first game week. Mullen has chosen not to discuss what, if any, suspension he plans for senior running back Anthony Dixon.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State has looked into the possibility of playing in-state schools more often as its athletic department looks for ways to make trips closer to home and to save money. MSU Athletic Director Greg Byrne said Monday the school is open to playing opponents in Mississippi as long as it fits what it’s trying to do competitively and financially and the game meets its scheduling philosophy.
ABERDEEN — Jamerson Love knew something needed to be done. The Aberdeen High School football team’s dream of a perfect season ended in week one at Columbus, but Love knew the season wasn’t over. Still, the senior running back realized the Bulldogs needed someone to provide a spark to help get the team rolling again.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State basketball team spokesman Gregg Ellis said Monday that All-Southeastern Conference forward Jarvis Varnado became ill during an individual workout and was taken to the hospital. Varnado first went to the Oktibbeha County Hospital for evaluation. He then was sent to the Northeast Mississippi Medical Center for further tests as a precautionary measure.
Mississippi has some of the best fishing waters anywhere in the South. If you ask most weekend anglers, they stick with the water areas close to home. The fact is an angler can plan a day trip and fish most any body of water Mississippi offers.
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