August 17, 2013 11:22:35 PM
By Logan Lowery
Special to the Dispatch
STARKVILLE -- Noxubee County head coach Tyrone Shorter was pleased to see his defense pitch another shutout on Saturday during a two quarter jamboree against Northwest Rankin.
It is something his Tigers did five times last fall en route to a 16-0 record and a Class 4A State Championship.
However, Shorter's offense struggled to sustain drives during their 2013 debut and also failed to score as the scrimmage ended in a scoreless stalemate.
"We've got a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball," Shorter said. "We're still not ready yet defensively and aren't physical enough. If we play like this next week we're going to get our tails whipped and whipped bad. We're so young offensively with a 10th grade quarterback. The receivers are young and the offensive line is young. We knew we were going to struggle offensively but our defense and special teams have a lot of work to do also."
Gone are Noxubee County's key leaders and stars from its state championship run a year ago. Running back Darrell Robinson, who rushed for 2,686 yards and 47 touchdowns in 2012, is at Pearl River Community College while defensive end Dylan Bradley and his 21.5 sacks are now at Southern Miss.
"We are not asking any of our kids to be a Dylan Bradley or a Robinson because those are special kids," Shorter said. "These kids here are young and have to find themselves. We're not asking a lot of them. We just need them to just play hard. We keep telling them that the team last year is gone. This is a different ball club."
One player who has star potential is sophomore defensive end Jeffery Simmons. Already at 6-foot-3, 240-pounds, Simmons is the younger brother of Bradley and will even don his No. 94 jersey for the upcoming season.
"I think he's going to be a great one later on," Shorter said. "He's just a sophomore and still has a lot of learning to do but overall I thought he played pretty decent today in his first ballgame."
Simmons helped anchor a Tiger defensive line that held Northwest Rankin off the scoreboard and to just 83 yards of total offense.
"I expect our defense to keep us in ballgames because I know we're going to struggle offensively," Shorter said. "We expect our defense to carry us until our offense gets going."
With such a young squad returning, Shorter stressed the importance of playing in a scrimmage game against another opponent before their week one matchup against defending Class 5A State Champion Starkville.
"That's what these jamborees are for. We didn't run a whole lot of stuff and didn't have a big game plan for this. We just wanted to work on some basic stuff, get them some experience and get the jitters out of them leading into next week."