October 23, 2009 8:16:00 AM
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School football coach Bill Lee believed his team missed a great opportunity this past Friday.
Lee said all the Yellow Jackets had to do was beat Southaven to make the Class 6A state playoffs.
That didn''t happen as Starkville lost 27-16.
A victory would have made things a lot easier on the Yellow Jackets, but now the playoff picture in Class 6A, Region 1 is clouded.
Starkville (3-5, 3-1 region) is in a three-way tie for second in the region with Southaven and Olive Branch. South Panola is first with a 4-0 mark.
The Southaven loss stings because there are no postseason guarantees for Starkville now with games left against Olive Branch at home (7 p.m. today), at South Panola (Oct. 30), and at Columbus (Nov. 6).
"If we had been 4-0, we''d been in, but not now," Lee said. "Our fate is in our hands, but if we had won Friday, we were automatically in because that would have knocked Southaven to 2-2. (With Southaven winning) that evens things up a little bit. That loss to Southaven was pivotal. We can''t automatically get in now."
If Starkville defeats Olive Branch (6-2, 3-1), but loses to South Panola and Columbus, the Yellow Jackets would finish 4-3 in the region. Southaven and Olive Branch could still finish 4-3 as well, then a point system would come into play.
In a region where the top four teams make the playoffs, Lee said the Yellow Jackets need to take advantage of their chances. He believes Starkville let one slip away against Southaven because of turnovers, missed tackles, bobbled snaps, and poor footing.
"The things we work on every day, we just blew it," Lee said. "To beat a good team, you''ve got to play error-free football, which is something we didn''t do (against Southaven). We weren''t focused.
"I felt like we were going to beat Southaven. I really did, but I don''t know if that led to the kids being too relaxed or not."
Lee has tried to get the Yellow Jackets'' attention this week with longer practices, including one that lasted until 6 p.m. Tuesday.
"We should be in that mind-set of taking care of business all of the time," Lee said.