The heat index is a number on the mind of more and more high school football coaches. With temperatures and heat indices in the state reaching into the upper 90s and 100s, respectively, in the past two weeks, football coaches around the state are trying to identify the best times and ways to get their players in condition for the start of the season. When state schools and football teams reconvene Aug. 3 for the 2009-10 school year, coaches might have another item to consider.
Each pass brings teams closer to the start of the 2009 high school football season. That’s why more and more teams are trying to get as many repetitions as they can in the next two months before school reconvenes in August. Columbus High School football coach Bubba Davis is going to do his best to make sure his team and others in the area are busy. Davis and the Falcons played host Tuesday to the first of what he hopes are several evenings of 7-on-7 passing competition.
The school colors have been worn for the final time. But New Hope High School graduates Victoria Culpepper, Kristen Harvey, and DeShuni Sanders wouldn’t have closed their careers any other way. The former Lady Trojans closed their high school careers last weekend with a host of other local players at the Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star games at Newton County High School in Decatur.
STARKVILLE — Terms like Yahoo, Google, Twitter, and Facebook are entering the vocabulary of coaches on a more regular basis. Mississippi State has upgraded its Twitter capabilities in the past month, and its coaches have begun to realize they can use this technology to their advantage. The MSU athletic department consolidated its Twitter offerings so coaches and administrators who maintain Twitter accounts can be found at one location: mstateathletics.com.
STARKVILLE –– Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen is satisfied with how involved the members of his coaching staff are in the lives of the players. Mullen realizes neither he nor his assistant coaches can watch their players 24 hours a day, and that’s when self-discipline has to kick in. Mullen tries to instill in the Bulldogs every day the importance of being champions on and off the field.
MERIDIAN –– Members of the Comer family, of Caledonia, caught the attention of State Games of Mississippi officials when their names kept showing up on the list of participants and medalists from various sports. Jessica Comer, 16, claimed the gold medal in the 15- to 19-year-old division of the 5-Kilometer Run with a time of 21 minutes, 16 seconds. Right on her heels was her sister, Anna, 18, with a time of 25:13. In between the girls was their younger brother, Jonathan, 13, who finished fifth in the 10-14 division with a time of 24:18.7. Youngest brother Caleb, 10, would have been in the mix as well, but he was involved in the State Games Soccer competition while his siblings were running.
STARKVILLE -- It wasn’t about football or basketball to Travis Outlaw, of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. It was about giving back to his hometown of Starkville. Teaching the game of football was the emphasis for Camp Complete on Friday and Saturday at Starkville High School, and Outlaw returned to his alma mater eager to meet some of his young fans. Even though Outlaw’s sport is basketball, he tries to never miss an opportunity to be visible in his hometown.
STARKVILLE –– The smiles were all the satisfaction that Camp Complete director Willie Gillespie needed. While teaching football was the primary purpose of the camp on Friday and Saturday at Starkville High School, Gillespie hopes the participants had a good time in the process. Gillespie, who played football at East Mississippi Community College and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga before spending three years with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Bucaneers, said the camp was all about making the children of the community feel special.
Tavaris Tate knows he wouldn’t be where he is today running track if it weren’t for the support of his father, Russell Tate. Being close to his father and family was the main reason he chose to sign a track scholarship with Mississippi State. For Mississippi State basketball player Jarvis Varnado, he also values the opinion of his father, West Point High School boys coach Winston Varnado.
Professional basketball dreams don’t have size requirements. If they did, Javon Randolph still would find a way to make an impression. The former men’s basketball standout at Savannah State did just that Saturday night at Columbus High School. Randolph scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half to help the Buford Majic defeat the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers 99-94 in a World Basketball Association Exposure League game.
Stacy Hester said Thursday he plans to appeal the recommendation of Lowndes County School District Superintendent Mike Halford and the vote of the county’s school board that he not be retained as New Hope High School baseball coach. “I want them to man up and tell me why,” Hester said. “It is just amazing (this has happened after) all of the things I have done and have been a part of out in that program. (It is a shame that after) one little incident all of this stuff kind of blows up and you’re gone. I think they are hiding the fact that I had an at-will contract and they don’t have to tell me a thing.”
STARKVILLE — Former Columbus High School offensive lineman Tobias Smith is going through offseason workouts at Mississippi State. Smith and the other Bulldogs coming back from injuries are happy about conditioning with little or no pain. Wide receiver Brandon McRae, running back Robert Elliott, tight end Marcus Green, and wide receiver O’Neal Wilder were all smiles Thursday exiting the Holliman Athletic Training Center. After breaking his left ankle in the first fall scrimmage of 2008 at MSU, Smith said he’s back to 100 percent. He credits the coaching staff, medical staff, and his family for helping him come back from the injury.
STARKVILLE — Sunday might be Father’s Day, but Saturday will be all about the women at Mississippi State. Mississippi State will play host to the Ladies Football Clinic, which will provide a wealth of information about football. Megan Mullen, the wife of Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen, believes the women who will participate will enjoy the experience.
Sharon Fanning feels blessed to be a part of the Mississippi State women’s basketball program. In 14 years as head coach, Fanning has won 233 games and has led the Lady Bulldogs to the postseason 10 times. This past season was one of the program’s best. MSU went 23-10 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Fanning was rewarded Thursday for the program’s success.
Basketball continues to nag at Kendrick Fox and Jason Smith. Even after successful careers at the University of Mississippi, Fox, 25, and Smith, 31, aren’t ready to put their sneakers away for good. That’s why Fox and Smith are keeping their games alive with the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers in the World Basketball Association Exposure League. Their objective is to make an impression on the basketball court so they can secure an opportunity to play professional basketball overseas or with another league in the United States.
Davis Lee and Nick Durrah are changing before their coaches eyes. This past season, Lee and Durrah played key roles for the New Hope High and Columbus High baseball teams, respectively. Those roles figure to be even bigger next year when Lee and Durrah dress out for their senior and junior baseball seasons, respectively. Lee and Durrah showed Thursday that the work they’re doing this month with their Dizzy Dean team is helping them prepare for their new roles.
Philip Tice was back on his home turf Thursday night. But the New Hope High School rising senior is showing more and more people that he is at home whenever and wherever there is a baseball diamond. Tice arrived home about 4 a.m. Thursday with the rest of his teammates who represented the state of Mississippi at the Junior Sunbelt Classic in McAlester, Okla.
STARKVILLE — Starkville Academy had a winning fast-pitch softball season this past fall, but the players and coach Randy Haynes believe it could have been much better. As the Lady Volunteers prepare for this season by playing in the High School Summer League at the Starkville Sportsplex, they hope to learn the little things that will help them turn close losses into wins. Starkville Academy pitcher Lyndsey Haynes, daughter of the coach, knows a better start in games will go a long way to helping the team produce positive results.
Latorrence Bivens is an easy-going guy. But donâ€™t confuse Bivensâ€™ quiet demeanor with an inability to set high expectations and an unwillingness to push his players to reach those goals. Bivens hopes that mix of qualities can be part of what will help him transition to coaching girls basketball.
David Lane said former Mississippi State center fielder Grant Hogue canâ€™t get to Greeneville, Tenn., fast enough. Lane, the manager of the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League, believes Hogueâ€™s speed on the basepaths will make him an instant weapon when his team begins competition Tuesday.
1. Orgeron learned valuable lesson in upset of Georgia COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Taylor: More to come at Columbus Motor Speedway LOCAL SPORTS
3. MSU's red-zone defense has been strong COLLEGE SPORTS
4. No. 1 EMCC beats Coahoma C.C. to clinch division title COLLEGE SPORTS
5. MSU will be team to beat in SEC COLLEGE SPORTS