STARKVILLE — Tyrone Shorter was in mid-season form Friday night.
The only thing missing from the Noxubee County High School football team’s 17-0 victory against Greenwood in the Louisville Jamboree at Starkville High was Shorter’s traditional sweater vest. The Tigers’ veteran coach eschewed his usual wardrobe for a blue pullover on what turned out to be a seasonable evening without rain.
Other than the slight adjustment in Shorter’s outfit, he was animated and involved in the action, pointing out mistakes and praising the Tigers for their efforts.
Afterward, Shorter showcased both sides of his emotions following his team’s first action against another opponent in 2018.
“I can’t wait until tomorrow to watch film,” Shorter told his teammates. “We have to get a whole lot better than that. We played sloppy.”
Shorter was quick to caution his players not to put too much stock in the score of the two-quarter scrimmage because Noxubee County doesn’t have a lot of time to get better before it takes on Starkville at 7 p.m. Friday in the season opener for both teams.
Noxubee County played without two starting offensive linemen, senior wide receiver Kyziah Pruitt, and another running back. Senior linebacker Chaokang Brooks also had to leave the game after he was cut blocked rushing the quarterback. Brooks watched the final minutes in the second quarter with his game jersey and shoulder pads off and ice wrapped around his knee.
Noxubee County had little trouble against Greenwood. After fumbling away the football on their opening possession, the Tigers regained possession on an interception by Eldrick Hopkins. Michael Barber kicked a 33-yard field goal that had plenty of distance to make it 3-0. Ja’Qualyn Smith added a 3-yard run and Kaiyus Lewis had an 8-yard run to complete the scoring.
“I thought we ran the ball really well tonight,” Shorter said. “That is going to be a big part of our offense this year. If we get our run game going along with the weapons we have at receiver and (junior quarterback) Khristopher White being as athletic as he is, we’re going to give a lot of people a lot of trouble.”
White was 9-for-17 for 92 yards in his first start leading the team. He replaces senior Armoni Clark, who took over midway through the 2017 campaign to lead the Tigers to their third Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A State title in the last four seasons. Senior Maliek Stallings, who started the 2017 season at quarterback, is playing wide receiver and cornerback this season.
Shorter hopes to have all of the missing pieces back to face Starkville. The opener begins Noxubee County’s traditional arduous pre-region march that includes games against Class 6A Columbus and Meridian and as well as two-time reigning Class 5A champion West Point. Noxubee County also will travel to play at West Monroe (La.) and against Glenwood (Ala.) at Birmingham Southern in Birmingham, Alabama.
Noxubee County then kicks off its Class 4A, District 4 schedule with a game Oct. 5 at Louisville and a home game against Kosciusko on Oct. 12. Those two games likely will determine the district champion. Noxubee County has won six-straight region titles and enters the 2018 season with a 30-game winning streak in region play.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.