September 25, 2009 8:00:00 AM
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- It still could be a couple of weeks or more before wide receiver Chuck Tillery returns from a broken leg to help Starkville High School football tam''s offense.
Until then, the Yellow Jackets will enter the Class 6A, Region 1, District 2 schedule without him.
Starkville High coach Bill Lee said players like Dennis Thompson, Justin Rogers, Perez Young, and Martavius Foster will have to emerge for tonight''s home game against Desoto Central (7).
Despite an 0-4 start, Lee still sees hope as division play begins.
"It isn''t too late to set matters straight," Lee said. "We''ve got a chance to get a ring. It''s the second season, and that''s what we''re playing for.''
Starkville lost games state champions Noxubee County (30-0), Louisville (26-21), and Meridian (27-10) to open the season before losing to West Point 33-13 on Sept. 11.
After having an open date last week, Lee believes his team is "battle-tested" and ready to resume its schedule.
Lee said it has been difficult without Tillery, but he said Foster, Thompson, and Young have produced.
Foster has eight catches for 115 yards, while Thompson has seven catches for 105 yards and Rogers has nine receptions for 96 yards.
"They come to work every day," Lee said. "What we''ve got may not be as good as what we had, but they are growing."
Lee said he would like to get Foster more involved in the offense, but much of that depends on coverages.
Starkville also has experienced some bumps and bruises along the offensive and defensive lines, but Lee said sophomores Eric Rogers and Kelvin Young have filled in nicely.
"They have been laying it on the line," Lee said.
Senior lineman Bennie Henderson (knee) also could return in a limited role tonight.
As for Tillery, he''s out of the protective boot that he had been wearing on his foot. Lee said he could play in two weeks.
With soggy field conditions and the potential of more rain on the way, Lee doesn''t want to rush his players back from injury and risk a more serious situation.
DeSoto Central (3-1) could provide a much tougher challenge than in past years.
Even though the first four games might have made Starkville better, Lee knows the Yellow Jackets must be ready.
"Everybody in this region is pretty good," Lee said. "DeSoto Central has more skilled people than what they''ve had, and the offensive line is doing a great job."