Noxubee County High School wide receiver Kymbotric Mason keeps his eyes on the ball to make a catch against Grenada in his team’s scrimmage at the New Hope High Jamboree at Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch
August 13, 2016 11:16:44 PM
Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter hasn't won three Mississippi High School Activities Association state championships by taking short cuts.
When his team is down, Shorter finds a way to lift it up. When his players are up, Shorter reminds them nothing has been accomplished and that they are capable of much more.
That's why it shouldn't come as a big surprise that Noxubee County's 19-6 victory against Grenada in the second game of the New Hope Jamboree on Saturday at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium didn't motivate Shorter to hand out a ton of praise to the Tigers.
Instead, Shorter greeted his team and listed all of the mistakes that had been made on its first step in its quest to become Class 4A's first three-peat state champion. He then listed all of the areas in which they should have done a little bit more. He then reminded his troops he loves them but that the next week preparing for Starkville will be like no other this season.
Area teams dominated the proceedings in the two-day, 14-team event. New Hope defeated Morton 29-8 Friday night. West Point beat Callaway 21-7 and Columbus beat Meridian 14-0 Saturday.
In The Clarion-Ledger Super 10 released Saturday morning, Starkville is No. 4, West Point is No. 6, Columbus is No. 8, and Noxubee County is No. 10.
Each of those teams has the same goal of beginning the season and ending the season at Davis Wade Stadium. MSU will play host to the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) state championship weekend Dec. 2-3.
Noxubee County has its sights set on its fourth title in five seasons. West Point will look for its first title since 2010. Columbus and New Hope will look for their first championships.
Noxubee County will begin the season with more questions than it had to start each of the last two seasons. Sophomore quarterback Maliek Stallings showed flashes. Shorter has gone down this road, as Timorrius Conner started as a sophomore.
Senior Javarcus Walker will anchor the running game. Walker and senior Ty'Quintin Ramsey also performed well. Noxubee County has some experience on the offensive line. Grenada has good size and that unit held its own in the scrimmage.
Entering the season, Noxubee County figured to be strong on defense. Even with the loss of defensive end Jeffery Simmons, who signed with MSU, the Tigers have size, depth, and experience. The majority of the questions are on offense. Noxubee County has the answers. It's just a matter of getting this unit to perform together and to its potential.
The debut of new-look West Point offense went as expected.
Shannon transfer Clayton Knight will provide a new dimension. The Green Wave scored on the opening possession with Knight connecting with Jason Brownlee for a touchdown.
As predicted earlier by coach Chris Chambless, West Point will run new formations, add some passing plays, and use Knight and last season's starter Marcus Murphy behind center.
Linebacker Keonta Hampton said West Point's preseason practices have been difficult for the defense. Hampton said the defense wasn't used to defending as many passing plays in practice. However, he predicts more diversity from the offense will help the defense by season's end.
On West Point's second possession, the Green Wave used the "wildcat formation," with Murphy cashing in on a quarterback draw for a touchdown.
The under-appreciated offensive line will only make Knight, Murphy, and junior running back Chris Calvert more dangerous. Calvert had the other touchdown for the Green Wave. Seeing such diversity in the scoring column should be expected this season.
On defense, West Point won't miss a beat this season. With key losses, such as Jeffery Drake, some might expect a step back. However, Hampton and senior Trevino Harris should anchor a unit that will be better than people anticipate.
With as many as six juniors starting on offense and eight juniors starting on defense, West Point is settling in for a prolonged run of success.
Meanwhile, Columbus will look to build on last season's 8-4 finish. The Falcons returned to the MHSAA playoffs for the first time after a three-year absence.
Columbus should have all the answers on offense. MSU commitment Kylin Hill played well Saturday night at the site of his future college home. Senior quarterback C.J. Gholar has made strides. He and Michael McCloud will be a fun combination. The Falcons will have to pass more this season to be considered a Class 6A title contender.
On defense, the losses from last season were huge. However, senior defensive Tahj Sykes, a Southern Mississippi commitment, and senior Derrick Beckom will anchor a unit that should run through the Class 6A, Region 1 field.
Playing against a fellow state title contender like Meridian will only make this squad better. The Wildcats were held to 10 yards of total offense. Braylen Edinburgh had a big interception to punctuate the win.
Columbus spent most of last season learning how to win. With that hurdle cleared, the Falcons can concentrate on winning championships.
Scott Walters is a sports writer for The Dispatch. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
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