October 2, 2009 7:50:00 AM
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- Some high school football teams hate to practice in the rain.
But the poor weather last week motivated the Starkville High School football team.
Junior linebacker D.J. Jordan said it was hard to explain, but when it started raining the Yellow Jackets worked harder.
"It hyped us up," Jordan said. "We knew it was going to be wet on Friday, so we just went out and got the job done."
Starkville High carried that emotion into its Class 6A, Region 1, District 2 opener and defeated DeSoto Central 9-3.
Jordan and the Yellow Jackets (1-4, 1-0) will look to take that momentum on the road at 7 tonight when they take on Tupelo High.
"We were better than what we were and we''re getting better," Starkville coach Bill Lee said. "We''re hoping it translates into another win for us."
Not many things went right for the Yellow Jackets in losses to Noxubee County (30-0), Louisville (26-21), Meridian (27-10), and West Point (33-13).
Lee knows his team could have easily given up after that stretch, but he''s proud his players have worked hard and have enjoyed some of their best practices this week.
"Monday and Tuesday were our long days and they were excellent," Lee said. "The concentration level was extremely high (Wednesday). We''re getting the kids to focus and we''re having fun with it.
"From day one, win, lose or draw, they''ve bought into the system and they''ve been hustling."
With a week off to prepare, the Yellow Jackets showed up strong defensively against DeSoto Central. The unit allowed 16 yards rushing and 117 yards passing. The fewest yards the Yellow Jackets had allowed before that was 264 in the season opener against Noxubee County.
Even though poor field conditions contributed to the low-scoring affair, Starkville defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Cleveland Hudson said his players continue to grow and to perform well.
There were many new faces on Starkville''s defense to begin the season, but Hudson said the players have come together to learn the basics.
"Football is still blocking and tackling, and we''re learning to do that better," Hudson said. "They are understanding the scheme of things. They''ve been playing hard and never gave up. The hard work is paying off."
Senior linebacker Craig Armstead leads the Yellow Jackets with 67 tackles, while Jordan has 48 tackles.
Tupelo (1-3, 1-0) has followed a similar path to Starkville. The Golden Wave lost their first three before beating Columbus 10-6 last week.
Chad Bumphis, Chris Garrett, and Justin Bean have moved on to Mississippi State, LSU, and Itawamba Community College, respectively, but Lee still expects Tupelo to be a strong opponent. He knows the Golden Wave''s speed could still be a huge factor.
"We''re not that fast on either side of the ball, so we know we''re going to give up big plays," Lee said. "It doesn''t matter what they had last year, with those guys they have now, they are still pretty good at what they do."