October 12, 2012 11:28:37 AM
ABERDEEN -- With a winner-take-all Class 3A, Region 2 showdown against Water Valley High School on tap next week, Aberdeen High football coach Mark Bray doesn't need another blowout victory against Mooreville at 7 tonight.
The Bulldogs (8-2, 2-0 region) are riding a four-game winning streak in which they are averaging 45.3 points per game. In the past two weeks, Aberdeen has earned consecutive 52-point routs while giving up a 20 points to division foes Mantachie and Nettleton.
Mooreville (3-5, 0-2) doesn't appear to pose a threat to that streak. The Troopers have been outscored 228-170.
"We've been on a roll the last month or so," Bray said. "We were tested by West Bolivar (45-28) and Louisville (32-21), but the last two weeks both games were essentially over at halftime.
"In some ways that's good because we get to give the younger players some valuable experience and we don't risk injuries to our starters who only get to play half a game. But the downside is those starters are losing playing time and you don't stay as sharp and play with the focus you need when you're 30 or 40 points up in the second quarter."
That's why Bray would welcome a challenge from Mooreville, if for no other reason that he could play his starters the whole game.
"Mooreville plays hard, and I expect a battle," Bray said. "Now we don't want to make it too close, but a close game would help in the long run."
Bray said Mooreville sports a young lineup and is in a rebuilding mode after losing 15 seniors from an 8-5 team that went 3-2 in the region. The Troopers lost current Itawamba C.C. quarterback Griff Loftis, whose father, Don, played at Aberdeen High in the 1970s.
"The key for us is not to have a letdown and not to look ahead to Water Valley," Bray said. "We need to come out and play well."
Sophomore quarterback Josh Williams has been a key to Aberdeen's prolific point totals in the past month. Williams' father, Terry, also played at Aberdeen in the mid-to-late '70s.
With starting running back Chico Harrison watching from the sideline, Williams was 8-for-10 for 248 yards last week. He also rushed six times for 90 yards.
"Coach (Alex) Williams has done a great job with Josh, and his improvement since the beginning of the year has really made a difference in our offense," Bray said.
The lopsided victory against the Tigers assured the Bulldogs a successful Homecoming before an overflow crowd -- one of the biggest in recent memory -- and it was an event that was magnified thanks to the efforts of a group of Aberdeen High graduates.
"Four or five of us were on Facebook and we all realized that with the state taking over our school that we needed to do something positive to show our support for our school system," said Sheila Higgins, one of the organizers of what was dubbed the First Annual Homecoming.
"We invited anyone who had graduated from Aberdeen at any time in the past to come and take part in the Homecoming festivities, and our former teachers were invited also."
According to Higgins, Brad Russell, of Corinth, and Jamye Doherty took the lead in organizing the event, one the group plans to make an annual affair.
"Brad was the instigator and Jamye contacted lots of people," Higgins said. "Kathy Rye Newman, Edward Haynes, and myself also helped put it together, and I think it turned out pretty well. Judy Roebuck made black ribbons to distribute to everyone in honor of former Aberdeen High School Superintendent John Curlee."
Different classes met at several local restaurants for a meal before the game. Then a group of 300 or so gathered at the High Street Community Center to dance to the music of Aberdeen High graduate Robbie Miller and his band.
"Even with all the people at the dance, Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Randle said he did not receive one complaint," Higgins said.
The oldest participant was Mrs. Metcalf, a former seventh-grade math teacher who graduated from Shivers High School in 1962.
David Lee, who left Aberdeen after the fifth grade, traveled from North Carolina to take part.
n Softball team will travel to East Union: Despite an unbeaten season in Class 2, Region 1 and a two-game home sweep against Hollandale Simmons in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association North State playoffs, Hamilton will travel to East Union for a 2 p.m. best-of-three second-round series.
If Hamilton wins, it will be on the road at Baldwyn or at Strayhorn for the third round Tuesday. Both of those schools finished second in their respective divisions.
Unlike baseball, where if two teams from the same division meet in the North State playoffs, the division winner gets to host. If Hamilton beats East Union, it will be on the road.
"I don't know why they don't do the same in softball, but in our case, if Baldwyn, who finished second in our division, wins their series with Strayhorn, we'll go to Baldwyn because they played at Riverside and then at Strayhorn," Hamilton coach Lewis Earnest said. "If Strayhorn beats Baldwyn, we'll go to 2-2A Strayhorn because this is the year the highest numbered division gets to host if both teams have hosted the same number of times."
Hamilton (21-5) ended the regular season with a 15-2 win against county rival Hatley. Alison Atkins tossed a six-hitter and ripped a pair of solo home runs. After giving up a two-run shot to Courtney Roberts in the bottom of the first, Atkins blanked the Lady Tigers en route to her 21st victory.
Cheyenne Logan also hit two home runs, including a grand slam in a seven-run second inning. Myiah Dobbs had a grand slam in the fourth, while Mary Willis had a solo shot in the first.
Atkins and Willis had six of Hamilton's 20 hits, while Taylor Hyland, Christy Willis, Addie Thompson, Jordyn Jackson, Hallie Dobbs, and Logan all finished with two hits each.
n Football will face J.Z. George on Homecoming: After three consecutive games on the road and coming off a 55-15 loss at Eupora, the Lions will return to Jimmie Moore Field at 7 tonight to take on J.Z. George in a Homecoming game.
The Lions (3-5, 1-1 division) hope to keep their playoff hopes alive with a victory despite having seven regulars out with injuries.
"With all our injuries, it's like playing chess every week," Hamilton coach Ray Weeks said. "We've got to figure out who plays where because you get one back and then you lose another.
"The upside is a lot of the younger players are gaining some valuable experience, but the downside is trying to put that puzzle together to see where everybody is going to fit in."
J.Z. George (2-6, 0-2) is tied for last in the division with Williams-Sullivan.
"They're a lot better than they have been lately," Weeks said. "They don't have a lot of speed, but they're young and athletic."
J.Z. George has scored 136 points (17.0) and has given up a division-leading 281 points (35.1), while Hamilton has scored 202 points (25.3) and allowed 190 points (23.8).
1. Patriots' Berry returns from injury with vengeance HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Skinner wins at Magnolia Motor Speedway LOCAL SPORTS
3. Littell talks about coaching journey, Budke COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU's James feeling stronger with each outing COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Tempo will be key for No. 1 MSU vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State COLLEGE SPORTS