The challenge has been set for the Mississippi State women’s basketball team. Now coach Sharon Fanning-Otis wants the Lady Bulldogs to go from earning “good” wins to chalking up “great” ones. The team’s 2009-10 schedule, which was released Friday morning, should afford MSU plenty of chances to earn the signatures victories that allow teams to secure postseason bids.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State junior tight end Thomas Webb knows about homesickness. After graduating from Starkville High School in 2005, Webb saw an opportunity to leave home and play for coach Jeff Bower at Southern Mississippi. Webb had an offer to attend MSU, but he didn’t think it was the right thing to do and was ready to leave town.
HAMILTON — Brandon Bell admits he is still figuring everything out. You can’t blame the Caledonia High School sophomore. He has had to move to a new position, he has had to adjust to a new coach and a new offense, and he had had to shoulder the expectations and the responsibility for being a team leader. That’s a lot to digest, even for the most experienced player.
If the first week of the season is any indication, it will be a game of contrasting styles when Heritage Academy plays at Winston Academy on Friday.
MACON — Programs don’t win state championships with one player. Standouts can play key roles, but the labors of one player will take a team only so far. The Noxubee County High School football team intends to show people in the state of Mississippi it is more than one player.
STARKVILLE — The presence of former Mississippi State football coach Jackie Sherrill at last Saturday’s closed scrimmage didn’t violate any of the parameters set forth in the self-imposed penalties for an incident that occurred during spring practice.
FULTON — Tevin Blanchard didn’t expect to wind up at Itawamba Community College. As a standout on the Aberdeen High School football team last season, Blanchard entertained dreams of earning a scholarship to play major Division I college football.
STARKVILLE — Registration for the Starkville Soccer Association season has just concluded and president Richard Stubbs said participants and sponsorships are down this year. Stubbs believes parents are feeling the pain of a struggling economy despite possible signs of improvement. He said cutting back on physical fitness, especially with children, is the wrong thing to do.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama volleyball team hopes focusing on smaller goals and taking them slower helps it accomplish a larger goal this season. A strong spring season and a competitive preseason has the Lady Crimson Tide ready to start the season against Saint Louis at 7 p.m. Friday in the SLU Active Ankle Challenge in St. Louis. “I think every team know what it wants to do, and I think when you set smaller goals and you reach them you get more encouragement and more affirmation,” senior right-side hitter Liz Salstrand said.
A program develops constants in winning 11 state titles. Defense has been one of the benchmarks for the New Hope High School slow-pitch softball team. But as stingy as the Lady Trojans have been defensively, their hitting has adapted to the strengths of the players from title to title. Some years New Hope has relied on its power hitters to fuel the offense. In other seasons — like in 2008 — it has blended line drive hitters with speed to deliver a consistent attack.
Josh Harper has a lot on his mind. The South Lamar High School football coach is about to embark on his first season as a head coach at his alma mater, and he’s faced with the task of preparing for the team’s archrival his first game. The Harper era at South Lamar begins at 7 p.m. Friday when the Stallions kick off their season at Lamar County in Vernon, Ala.
SCOOBA –– East Mississippi Community College football coach Buddy Stephens describes the center position as the “traffic cop” of the offensive line. The center is crucial in alerting guards and tackles to the location of an opponent’s linebackers. Centers also make calls for the offensive line that allow adjustments for the correct stance before the football is snapped.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen was a little more demanding on the first practice of the week since the team’s scrimmage Saturday. That’s because he noticed several things to work on. “We’ve got a long way to go,” Mullen said. “We’ve got to get a lot better and clean up a lot with all of the phases the next couple of days, so everything looks cleaner for game week.” Turnovers and allowing big plays on defense bothered Mullen the most in the scrimmage.
STARKVILLE — Paul “Buzzy” Mize of the Henry Mize Foundation said the Humphrey Coliseum is getting a front door. That door that door will give the Mississippi State men’s and women’s basketball teams a new opportunity to improve their programs. The Mize Foundation has provided the lead gift of $4 million toward plans for a $11.2 million indoor basketball practice facility that were announced Monday afternoon.
STARKVILLE — The anticipation surrounding the Mississippi State football season generated a lot of positive energy Monday as students purchased a single-day record of more than 7,000 season tickets. MSU football coach Dan Mullen, who visited several student organizations to promote the program, was pleased to hear about the response.
The Noxubee County High School football team stayed relatively healthy last season in its run to the Class 4A state title. Things will be a little tougher this season in the Tigers’ quest to repeat. Noxubee County High coach M.C Miller said Monday that senior wide receiver/quarterback/free safety Vincent Sanders will be out an undetermined length of time with a fractured jaw.
STARKVILLE — Back from helping Team USA win the bronze medal in July at the World University Games, Mississippi State senior center Jarvis Varnado is ready to focus on the upcoming season. Varnado is excited about what the Bulldogs can accomplish, especially with high-profiled signees like Renardo Sidney and John Riek.
STARKVILLE — With a new head coach and a new spread offense in the works, the Mississippi State football team this season has the potential to surprise some people, assistant coach Rockey Felker told the Starkville Rotary Club Monday afternoon.
CARROLTON, Ala. — Jacob Acker doesn’t have a preference. He doesn’t even have to have the ball in his hands. When you’re running an offense that is as much fun as the spread option, the points just have a way of piling up on the scoreboard. It also helps to have a versatile array of players.
Columbus High School junior defensive lineman Ian Williams was thankful to be in the right place at the right time. Even though it took a while to determine who blocked the extra point that enabled Columbus beat Aberdeen 27-26 in double overtime Friday night, Williams was glad he could be a difference maker.
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5. Loss to Kentucky reveals issues for MSU LOCAL COLUMNS