September 28, 2012 12:36:26 PM
ABERDEEN -- In 1992, Lynn Moore resigned as Aberdeen High School's head football coach to take over at Louisville High.
Moore's first year on the job produced a state championship for the Wildcats.
Fast forward 20 years and Moore's Aberdeen connections come front and center again, only this time he'll be on the opposite sideline as his Mantachie Mustangs will take on the Bulldogs tonight in the division opener for both teams.
"I was talking to someone just this week and we couldn't believe it had been 20 years since I coached at Aberdeen," said Moore, who has helped the Mustangs (3-3) equal the number of victories they had last season.
Moore's last two Aberdeen teams in 1991 and '92 lost back-to-back games to Louisville 14-0. Last week, Aberdeen beat Louisville for the first time to improve to 4-2.
Last season, Aberdeen rolled to a 40-0 victory against Mantachie, as the Mustangs failed to win a division game (0-5) en route to a 3-8 finish.
"We hope we can do better than we did last year," Moore said, "but Aberdeen's team speed is our biggest worry. We have only average speed, so our biggest concern is to keep them hemmed up and not let them use that speed to their advantage."
First-year Aberdeen coach Mark Bray agrees team speed could be the difference tonight.
"We have good overall team speed and we need to take advantage of it," Bray said. "If it comes down to smash-mouth football, this game could become very interesting, so it's in our best interest to use what we have in an efficient manner."
A year ago, Aberdeen was 2-4 after playing a grueling non-division schedule. It has reversed its fortunes this season by simplifying the playbook.
"This time last year we were correcting mistakes," Bray said. "We decided to cut the play selection in half and what we're doing now we're doing a lot better than we did last year. We've got a lot of things going in the right direction this year, and we're just trying to polish what we've got."
Injuries also be a factor, as no less than three Aberdeen defensive starters have been ruled out and two more are doubtful.
"We're all banged up," Bray said. "We're not blessed with a very deep roster, so replacing three starters is going to mean some folks are going to have to step up and make a contribution."
n Softball team's offense clicking: Offense was the name of the game for Hamilton last week, as the Lady Lions had 35 hits in nine innings en route to a pair of wins against Baldwyn and Okolona.
Hamilton ripped 20 hits, including three home runs, three doubles, and 14 singles in a 15-5 road win against Baldwyn last Thursday, and then followed that up with a 15-hit onslaught in a 16-1 win against Okolona on Tuesday in Hamilton.
Against Baldwyn, all 10 starters for Hamilton had at least one hit and one run, while nine of the 10 also drove in at least one run.
Eight runners scored in the first inning, as Mary Willis blasted a three-run home run and Raimi Bryan had a two-run shot to account for five of the runs.
Cheyenne Logan's three-run blast in the third highlighted a five-run inning that increased Hamilton's lead to 14-2.
Willis and Logan paced the winners with three hits apiece (two singles and a home run). Both had three RBIs. Alison Atkins, Taylor Hyland, Addie Thompson, Myiah Dobbs, Jordyn Jackson, and Bryan all had two hits, while Christy Willis and Hallie Dobbs rounded out the 20-hit attack with a double and a single, respectively.
Hyland led the team with three runs scored, one up on teammates Christy Willis, Logan and Bryan, as Jackson and Bryan both drove in a pair of runs.
Atkins gave scattered 16 hits, as the Lady Bearcats managed to dent the scoring column in the first (two), third (one), and fourth (two) frames.
Against Okolona, the Lady Lions failed to hit a home run for the first time in several games, but they had three triples, a double, and 11 singles in just two at-bats. Ten of the 11 starters hit safely at least once.
Atkins and Hyland (single and triple), Christy Willis (single and double), Mary Willis, and Hallie Dobbs (two singles) accounted for 10 hits, while Logan, Thompson, Myiah Dobbs, and Bryan all singled once.
The highlight was a bases-loaded triple by freshman extra hitter Hailie Jones in the 12-run first inning.
Atkins, the winning pitcher in both games, scored three times, once more than Myiah Dobbs, Logan, Jackson, and Jones, and also had a pair of RBIs, as did Mary Willis, Christy Willis, and Bryan.
Hits and misses
For the second time this season, a win against an opponent held a special meaning for an Aberdeen assistant coach.
Four weeks ago, Aberdeen assistant Cornelius Gilleylen reveled in the Bulldogs' last-second win against his alma mater, Amory. Gilleylen, an enthusiastic firebrand type who Bray said he'd take with him wherever he coached, had an outstanding football career under Bobby Hall and Pat Byrd, but admits his loyalties now lie with the Bulldogs.
"I love my alma mater and pull for them in every game except one," Gilleylen said. "But I'm an Aberdeen coach now, so I'll do whatever I have to do to make sure we come out on top."
To make matters worse, when Gilleylen isn't prowling the Aberdeen sidelines, he also cuts hair in Amory, so it's conceivable the banter in his shop the past several weeks has probably bordered on the insane.
This past week, Aberdeen assistant coach Thomas Clay, who returned to Aberdeen earlier this season almost 20 years after graduating from the school, took great pleasure in Aberdeen's 32-21 win against Louisville.
As a standout for the Bulldogs in football and baseball, Clay was beaten on a deep fade route in Louisville's 14-0 win against Aberdeen in his junior year (1991) and was the starting quarterback a year later in another 14-0 setback.
"Beating them Friday for the very first time was so satisfying, especially how those two games my junior and senior years turned out," said Clay, who teamed with defensive coordinator Sammie Burroughs on key halftime adjustments that limited the Wildcats to 58 yards in the second half.
"We got our heads together at halftime and tried some different things and it did the trick," said Burroughs, also a standout player for the Bulldogs before moving on to the college and professional ranks.
Several weeks ago, 12-year old Syd Allmond stepped up as a chain gang replacement early in the first quarter and did a credible job helping his father, John, man the sticks.
A week later, yet another Aberdeen youngster, Nicholas Walker, took on an equally daunting task: filming the game for Bray.
Pressed into service when an eighth-grader who had filmed the first three games failed to show for the Noxubee County game, Walker received some last-minute instruction from assistant coach Drew Summerford and filmed the game.
"Coach Summerford showed me what to do and I took it from there," said Walker, a sixth-grader at Shivers and the son of Nicole Walker and Larry Wilson. "I missed a couple of plays when I had to go to the bathroom and I made some mistakes, but I learned from them."
Said Bray, "He does a pretty good. Once he gets a few more games under his belt, he'll be a pro."
1. Mullen fills last spot on coaching staff COLLEGE SPORTS
2. MSU softball team opens new park in style COLLEGE SPORTS
3. No. 15 Texas A&M edges No. 11 MSU in ranked showdown COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Howland hopes MSU can build on momentum COLLEGE SPORTS