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Walters column: Closing the door on the prep football preseason

 

New Hope senior wide receiver Andre Erby (3) breaks a long gainer during Friday night’s 29-8 win over Morton at the New Hope Jamboree played in Starkville.

New Hope senior wide receiver Andre Erby (3) breaks a long gainer during Friday night’s 29-8 win over Morton at the New Hope Jamboree played in Starkville. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch

 

Scott Walters

 

 

Editor's Note: Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters completes his weekly look at the upcoming prep football season. Area schools open the season Thursday and Friday. 

 

 

 

After getting a tease this past weekend, the prep football season is really here. 

 

The Mississippi High School Activities Association and Mississippi Association of Independent Schools begin the regular season with games Thursday and Friday. 

 

There is less buzz for this year's opening weekend because there are not a lot of huge showdowns on a statewide level. Nonetheless, it is time to embrace a return to football. 

 

We now look at a final set of questions as opening kickoff stares at us from right around the corner. 

 

1. Who was most impressive at the New Hope Jamboree held this past weekend at Davis Wade Stadium? 

 

While area teams dominated the proceedings, we will give a slight edge here to Noxubee County. 

 

With a ton of returning starters, West Point was expected to shine. Columbus also played well defensively in its win over Meridian. 

 

However, there were a lot of questions about Noxubee County before its 19-6 win over Class 5A contender Grenada. 

 

One half of practice does not tell us who might win a state championship. However, the execution of both the Noxubee County offense and defense looked good for a season opener. 

 

It will be exciting to watch sophomore quarterback Maliek Stallings grow into this position this year. 

 

2. Are you feeling an upset this season? 

 

We hinted at this in yesterday's column. However, it's time to go out on a limb and take New Hope for a Class 5A, Region 1 road win at Oxford. 

 

With a new coaching staff and several lost seniors to graduation, Oxford will be rebuilding this year. 

 

New Hope lost several close games last season. The Trojans always competed hard. That has been a staple of each of Kris Pickle's first two teams. 

 

New Hope also looked good its in jamboree win over Morton. Granted, Oxford is better than Morton. 

 

However, one of the biggest things you can have in sports is confidence. New Hope lost its confidence early last season and struggled to get it back. 

 

This year should be different. 

 

3. What were your thoughts on the Clarion-Ledger ranking four area teams in the preseason Super 10? 

 

For weeks, we have been talking about how great this prep football season could be for our area. The Clarion-Ledger confirmed those expectations by ranking four teams in the Super 10. 

 

The poll includes No. 4 Starkville, No. 6 West Point, No. 8 Columbus and No. 10 Noxubee County. All teams are eligible for ranking regardless of class. 

 

A talented and deep Class 6A is expected to be lead by No. 1 Brandon, No. 2 Clinton and No. 3 South Panola, However, Starkville and Columbus will be in the mix and each has a chance to play for the state championship. 

 

West Point is the odds-on favorite in Class 5A. In Class 4A, St. Stanislaus comes in one spot ahead of Noxubee County. 

 

Noxubee County has beaten St. Stanislaus in each of the last two Class 4A state championship games. 

 

4. Which road stadium concession stand do you anticipate the most? 

 

The calendar is already circled for Oct. 7. Columbus plays at Horn Lake in Class 6A, Region 1 play. 

 

That means it will be time for some more Horn Lake hot dogs. Clearly, the best hot dog consumed at any sports venue - high school or college - this past school year. 

 

There are several strong candidates here locally, too. Even the Tupelo High School chicken sandwich deserves some consideration. 

 

However, the Horn Lake hot dog is clearly above the rest. And since Horn Lake draws about 30 fans per game, the line is always short. 

 

5. May we have one more player to watch this season? 

 

Making plays all over the place Saturday was Noxubee County sophomore defensive back Kyziah Pruitt. 

 

The 6-foot, 185-pound Pruitt made a name for himself with a 97-yard fumble return touchdown in Noxubee County's Class 4A state championship win over St. Stanislaus last season. 

 

Pruitt said he did not play a snap in last season's New Hope Jamboree. However, coach Tyrone Shorter kept motivating the then-freshman, telling him he would be needed by the end of the year. 

 

With a lot of youth on the defense this year, Pruitt will be a leader, even as a sophomore.  

 

Scott Walters is a sports reporter for The Dispatch. He can be reached at swalters@cdispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott.

 

Scott is sports copy editor and reporter

 

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