WEST POINT — Tommy Keys and his defensive linemates don’t need an elaborate answer to explain their success. Like their counterparts on the offensive line, Keys and the rest of the West Point High School defensive linemen have a one-track mind and they explode from there. “You’ve got to want to first,” Keys said. “Everybody else relies on us because if we get blown back everybody else is going to get blown back.”
ABERDEEN — Fred Ward and Channing Ward don’t want people to forget about the Aberdeen High School football team. At the beginning of the season, the Bulldogs were the talk of the area and the state. Many people thought they were going to run the table and secure an easy road to the Class 3A state title game in Jackson. An injury to starting quarterback Aaron Andrews played a role in an opening-season loss to Class 6A Columbus and a loss to Class 4A Pontotoc in week three, but the Bulldogs have regrouped and are ready to make their playoff run.
CALEDONIA — Everything came together last season for Morgan Mansfield and the Caledonia High School boys soccer team. The first-year coach needed time to mold a senior-laden team into form, but things took off when the pieces solidified. This season, the Confederates will have to find a way to replace six seniors who played key roles in a 14-5 school-best season and a trip to the Class 4A North Half State title game. Even though Caledonia won’t be as experienced as it was last season, Mansfield is excited about what his team can accomplish this season.
Bruce Allsup likes his mix of players. Sometimes coaches have the luxury of dealing with senior-laden teams that can adjust to nearly every situation. Other years, coaches have to take a step back and start fresh with inexperienced squads. This season, Allsup figures to have a mix of both with his Heritage Academy girls basketball team. Seniors Madison Ford, Morgan Lott, and Carolina Borland will lead a 12-player team that features four juniors and five sophomores.
Everything came together Friday night for Trevor Eaves. It was motivation enough that Eaves and the Central Academy football team had to face archrival Kemper Academy on Senior Night in their regular-season finale. The game carried added motivation because Kemper Academy knocked Central Academy out of the playoffs last season. To make matters even bigger, the Vikings needed a victory to help force a tie atop the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools eight-man District I standings.
A variety of weapons has helped the Victory Christian football team overcome an assortment of obstacles this season. Like many of the other teams in the state of Mississippi, the Eagles have dealt with enough rain to last five seasons. The rain has left Victory Christian’s home field — as well as many of its opponents’ fields — a soggy mess.
Lamar County High School football coach Ken Adams thinks it’s an accomplishment that his team made it through the regular season with an undefeated record. But Adams and the Bulldogs want more.
Central Academy, Veritas, and Calvary Christian decided to Monday to settle things on the field. Tied atop Mississippi Association of Independent Schools eight-man District I standings with 4-1 records, the teams had planned to use a coin flip Monday to decide the two teams that would advance to the playoffs. But the teams instead will play a three-way tiebreaker at 5 p.m. today at East Central Community College to decide which teams will represent the district in the playoffs.
Toughness and commitment are one to Seth Stillman. It’s something he thinks about when he is on the field and in pain Friday nights with his “brothers” on the New Hope High School football team. As difficult as it is for Stillman, a senior linebacker, to describe the intensity of that pain, he is somehow able to compartmentalize that feeling and allow his leadership skills to take over. At no time did Stillman’s presence on the field mean more than it did on Friday night in New Hope’s game against Hernando at Trojan Field.
Starkville Academy hopes Shane Bazzell can bring some of his state championship magic to its baseball program. Bazzell, who played baseball at New Hope High School from 1993-98 and helped the Trojans win state titles in 1996 and ’98, was named Monday the new head baseball coach at Starkville Academy. “He played at one of the best high school programs in the state and has obviously learned the game,” Starkville Academy Athletic Director Glenn Schmidt said. “He has a passion for baseball.”
Madison Ford’s busy schedule is making national news. The Heritage Academy senior learned a few weeks ago from classmate Morgan Lamb that she is one of 20 of scholar-athletes from the state of Mississippi who is a finalist for the 2009 Wendy’s High School Heisman Award program. More than 50,000 seniors applied nationwide and from that group, 10,848 school winners were selected. The 20 Mississippi state finalists were chosen from these winners.
Championship programs are made of this. The New Hope High School football team still has work to do before it earns a title, but it showed Saturday night it just might have the mettle to be a state contender. Terrance Dentry scored on a 1-yard plunge on fourth down in overtime and the Trojans’ defense swarmed Brandon Dennis on the final play to seal a 35-27 victory at Trojan Field.
OLIVE BRANCH — Olive Branch High School football coach Scott Samsel hadn’t called a swinging gate play in three years. He did so at just the right time Saturday afternoon. With the Conquistadors nursing a seven-point lead against Columbus with 84 seconds left in the first half, the play sprang running back Keyshun Shipp for a 41-yard gain that turned the momentum of the game at Leslie Pool Field.
The Victory Christian football field was marshy Friday night, so coach Chris Hamm didn’t expect the passing game to have much of an impact. Yet every time the rain increased, Parker Eaves connected with Tyler Jones for another long touchdown pass. Eaves hooked up with Jones for three of his four touchdown passes on the night to lead Victory Christian to a 46-6 victory against Victory Millbrook in the semifinals of the Christian Football Association playoffs.
The East Webster High School football team shut out West Lowndes on Friday night in more ways than one. Not only did the Wolverines blank the Panthers 24-0, but they also held them without a yard on offense. The Wolverines (5-6, 1-4 Class 2A, Region 2, District 4) allowed negative-21 yards total offense in a dominating victory that put them in position to earn a playoff victory.
WEST POINT — It was worth the wait for Winston Academy football team and Rob Moffitt. Poor weather postponed the Patriots’ matchup against Oak Hill Academy from Friday night to Saturday afternoon. When the game was finally played, Moffitt had to wait nearly three quarters before he touched the football. But Winston Academy coach Wyatt Rogers decided to give Moffitt a carry with 26.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
AMORY –– The Amory High School football team scored all of its points in the second half Friday night and rallied to beat Louisville 19-14 in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A, Region 4 game on Friday. Amory (3-8, 3-2 region) rallied in the second half after trailing 14-0 at halftime. Joreel Freeman scored the winning touchdown on a 5-yard run with 2 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
A slow course wasn’t enough to prevent McGee Ledbetter from earning All-State honors. The Heritage Academy junior cross country runner finished fourth Monday with a time of 19 minutes, 3 seconds at the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA boys 5-Kilometer run at the Choctaw Trails course used by Mississippi College. Starkville Academy’s Joseph MacGown was second in the Class AAA meet with a time of 18:52. Jackson Prep’s Daniel Lang won the race in 18:29.
STARKVILLE — Justin Brewer thought about the opportunity and decided it was too good to pass up. After putting off Copiah-Lincoln Community College at first when a job as assistant baseball coach came open, Brewer decided to take the job after one season as the head baseball coach at Starkville Academy. Brewer was also an assistant football coach for the Volunteers. He wrapped up his responsibilities Friday in a 31-14 loss to Pillow Academy.
The Columbus High School football team’s game at Olive Branch High School has been moved to 2 p.m. Saturday due to expected inclement weather in the state. The game was originally scheduled to be played at 7 tonight.
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