STARKVILLE — The Noxubee County High School football team knew the deck would be stacked against it Friday night.
Noxubee County opened the 2012 season at Starkville, home of the defending Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North champions, and considered by many the favorite to return to Jackson this year.
Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter knew it would be vital for his team to strike early to combat the adverse circumstances. The Tigers did just that with a 61-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. On their second snap on defense, the Tigers intercepted a pass.
Those plays set the tone as Noxubee County walked away with a 29-8 victory.
“We told the kids in the locker room we have to strike first,” Shorter said. “That’s what we did. Our coaching staff knew it was going to be tough facing a top-10 team that is favored to win (Class) 5A.”
On the second play from scrimmage, running back Darrell Robinson busted through the line of scrimmage and past the next two levels of defenders and was off to the races for a 61-yard score less than a minute into the game.
Shorter believes that play established the offense for the rest of the evening.
“We felt like we could run the football on them,” Shorter said. “That set the tone when he broke that long run. We knew as the game went with our experienced offensive line we could run the football.”
Robinson fed off that strong start, finishing with 195 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. The 5-foot-10, 191-pound senior had 299 all-purpose yards.
“We knew we had to come out fast because we were away,” Robinson said. “We knew our defense would hold up the whole game and they only thing we had to do was come out and score and we’d come out with the win. That’s what happened.”
Noxubee County finished with 317 yards, including 265 rushing.
“For them to do what they did to our defense was just mind boggling,” Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said. “We usually play good defense and they just shredded us. That’s nothing but credit to (Noxubee County). They did a phenomenal job.”
The Tigers have always been known for their defensive prowess, and this year is no different. On the first snap, 6-foot-7, 367-pound defensive tackle Deshawn Hopkins buried quarterback Gabe Myles in the backfield for a 2-yard loss.
On the second play, Noxubee County forced Myles, a Mississippi State University commitment, to heave an interception to Antravion Jamison. Myles was 1 of 11 for 6 yards and rushed 18 times for 10 yards.
“I told our kids we had to stop their No. 5 (Myles),” Shorter said. “We had to stop him. Our kids and our coaching staff did a very good job of planning for No. 5 and that’s what we did tonight. I thought we took them out of their game.”
From then on out it was the Dylan Bradley show for the Tigers defense. The senior defensive end had four sacks and a barrage of tackles for loss and seemingly lived in the Starkville backfield.
“This is just the beginning,” Bradley said. “It’s going to be better next week and the week after that. It’s going to be hectic, and I’m going to terrorize a lot of quarterbacks this year.”
The dominant start on both sides of the ball not only set the tone for Friday night, but also for the season. Noxubee County finished 10-3 last season and advanced to the second round of the Class 4A North State playoffs, but the season came to a premature end with a 21-20 loss at Amory.
Shorter feels Friday night’s victory should serve notice to the rest of Class 4A that they plan on sticking around a little longer this year.
“This is a big statement,” Shorter said. “We knew we had a good football team. We just had to put it together. We just wanted to let everybody know we’re not being cocky. These kids felt like we got out of the playoffs a little bit too early last year.”