STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School running back Avery Brown had lofty expectations to live up to this season. Matt Fuller rushed for 1,000 yards last season, while Jacquez Horsley was close to breaking the 1,000-yard mark but was bothered by injuries. Preston Baker, Brown's cousin, rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2012. Brown knows all about the running backs who have come before him. He has used their contributions as motivation to help prepare him for his opportunity.
HAMILTON -- Josh Baty looked at Brandon Johnson and smiled. The Hamilton High School football coach felt relatively certain nobody was going to get hurt in the stretching line prior to the regular-season finale against Vardaman.
HOUSTON -- Protect the quarterback is an adage as old as the game of football. Quincy Stokes has to be old school. The Noxubee County High School senior offensive lineman eschews the contemporary accessories so many players make part of their game day wardrobe. Stokes prefers to lace them up and go, shirts untucked regardless of their color.
CLINTON -- Playing the same team twice in one season is never an easy test, especially when the second meeting has higher stakes. The added wrinkle for the Starkville High School football team was it had to devise a new game plan to account for the return of Clinton High junior quarterback Cam Akers, an Alabama commitment, who is one of the state's most dangerous players. Akers missed the first meeting Nov. 6 due to an injury.
CLEVELAND -- The Aberdeen High School football team had a chip on its shoulder here Friday against the East Side Trojans at Leroy Byars Field. Not being ranked in the top five in one statewide Class 3A poll and mired in the fourth spot for most of the past month or so in a local North Mississippi poll behind three teams that had lost to Aberdeen (Calhoun City) or, based on comparative scores, more than likely would have lost in a head-to-head matchup (Smithville and Kossuth), definitely left a bad taste in the Bulldogs' mouths.
GRENADA -- West Point High School senior defensive lineman Tony Rush has been waiting for this moment for quite some time. "The senior class wanted to bring West Point football back," Rush said. "After getting put out in the first round in my 10th-grade year and the second round last year, this game meant a lot to me. The seniors really poured their hearts into it. We wanted to make it a special season." West Point took another step toward a special season by beating Grenada 16-9 in a second-round Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State playoff game Friday night at Charger Stadium.
Lavante Porter isn't surprised the West Lowndes High School football team is one of the last eight standing in Class 1A in the state. Porter is in his fourth year as a key contributor for the Panthers, so he has seen plenty of talented players come through the program. While there are plenty of weapons on the 2015 team, Porter said the difference between this year's group and past squads is the talented individuals have decided to become part of a team.
STARKVILLE -- You could argue Starkville High School defensive coordinator Brooks Oakley didn't have any reason to watch the film of his team's game against Clinton earlier this season. Without starting quarterback Cam Akers, the Arrows lost to the Yellow Jackets 45-7 on Nov. 6 in the regular-season finale at Yellow Jacket Stadium. Akers, who was out with an injury, watched from the sideline as Clinton's offense struggled.
The succession of the quarterback position at Aberdeen High School started in 2014. Quarterback Josh Williams was making the Bulldogs go for his third and final season. Tramonte Prather was a junior and earning a reputation as one of the team's top defensive players. While Aberdeen racked up the victories, each player knew the Bulldogs would look a lot different in 2015.
West Point High School boys basketball coach Brad Cox remembers the nightmare of his team trying to guard Starkville High School guard Tyson Carter during a summer league game. Cox said his young team hung tight through three quarters until Carter took the contest over. In his team's home opener Thursday night, Carter did the destruction much earlier.
When the season began, football players at West Point High School felt like the team was ready to return to the upper echelon in Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A play. West Point (10-2) will have a chance to prove it has realized that goal at 7 tonight when it plays at Grenada (10-2) in the second round of the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs.
MACON -- Like many of his peers, Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter doesn't enjoy playing teams twice in one season.
STARKVILLE -- Will Coleman could have gone and played immediately at a handful of other schools.
New Hope High School senior Carlos Brooks likes the "positive vibes" coming from his basketball team.
MACON -- Jeffery Simmons lingered at midfield a little longer than usual.
Columbus High School junior running back Kylin Hill knows how far the Falcons traveled this season. He also knows a state championship is within the team's grasp. Columbus saw its 2015 season end with a 56-42 loss to Clinton in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A playoffs Friday night. Hill did his part with 24 rushes for 382 yards and five touchdowns. For his efforts, Hill is The Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
MACON -- Four-man fade likely will go down as one of the biggest plays in Noxubee County High School football history. It shouldn't be surprising that Kymbotric Mason and Timorrius Conner were involved in the play, or that it was a pass completion between a junior wide receiver and senior quarter back that sealed Noxubee County's 20-13 victory against Lafayette County. After all, this is Noxubee County, a program that has earned a reputation for having an explosive passing attack.
STARKVILLE -- Avery Brown believes it's all about how much heart you have. The Starkville High School senior running back saw Olive Branch cut his team's lead to 15 with 3 minutes, 54 seconds remaining Friday night. After a failed onside kick, the Yellow Jackets took over around midfield. On the ensuing play, Brown showed how much heart he had, dashing the Conquistadors' hopes for a comeback with a 52-yard touchdown. "I just had to do what I had to do to put the game away," Brown said.
The West Lowndes High School football team scored in a lot of different ways Friday night in a 30-6 victory against Ray Brooks in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A playoffs. The victory helped West Lowndes (9-4) equal the most victories in a season since 1995, when coach Felix Wicks led the team to a 9-1 finish. The win also set up a trip to Hollandale next week to face the Simmons Blue Devils (9-0).
WEST POINT -- The West Point High School football team's passing game is like an earthquake -- opponents never know when it's coming. More than 80 percent of the time, West Point will pound the inside with dives and stretch the perimeter with sweeps, even on passing downs. Then, out of nowhere, the Green Wave will get a chunk play in the passing game.
1. MSU builds momentum for Ole Miss game COLLEGE SPORTS
2. MSU eager to reclaim Egg Bowl trophy COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Ole Miss bounces back with dominating win COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Avery Brown keeps Starkville High's tradition at RB going HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Kelly excited to be part of his first Egg Bowl COLLEGE SPORTS