September 17, 2010 8:49:00 AM
One victory doesn''t make a season.
Tony Stanford hasn''t had to preach that message this week because his Columbus High School football players haven''t appeared to change following their first big victory of the 2010 season.
Coming off a victory last week against New Hope, Stanford and the Falcons (2-1) will try to remain focused at 7:30 tonight when they travel to Louisville for their final non-district game of the season.
"I don''t think the victory has affected us," said Stanford, referring to the 39-22 victory against New Hope. "You never know until you get to the game, but I hope we don''t come out flat."
The game is a homecoming, of sorts, for Stanford, who was the head coach at Louisville High from 1995-2002. He guided the Wildcats to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A state title in ''95.
Stanford has Columbus poised to build on the momentum of a 39-22 victory against New Hope. The Class 6A Falcons scored 25 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to break open what had been a close game against the Class 5A Trojans.
"I thought the offensive line as game got going did a lot better job blocking," Stanford said. "The defense, I thought, in the second half shut down what they were doing. We made some adjustments and they were not able to rip off big plays like they did in the first half."
Stanford said he expected his players to remain even-keeled after the victory against New Hope because so many of them want to win.
The return from injury of junior quarterback Cedrick Jackson, junior running back Damian Baker, senior defensive end Ian Williams, and sophomore Quan Latham, who plays in the secondary, helped Columbus win the rivalry game.
Now the Falcons have to re-set their focus for the Wildcats (1-3), who have been shut out by Starkville High (34-0) and by Tupelo (17-0).
First-year coach M.C. Miller, the former head coach at Noxubee County High, said he has six players injured, including three who are already out for the rest of the season. One of those players is freshman Wyatt Roberts, who had been the team''s starting quarterback. Miller said wide receivers C.J. Bates and Tahj Ford will be options at quarterback for the next two weeks until Roberts is expected to return.
"We''re just trying to make do and hope we can get the players back soon," said Miller, who won a Class 4A state title at Noxubee County in 2008. "If we don''t get them back, we''re going to have to go with what we have got."
Miller said the Wildcats understand they aren''t the most experienced team in the state and they might have to take some lumps this season. But he feels his junior-laden team is making strides and that the potential is there for Louisville to make some noise if it gets healthy later in the season.
"We''re trying to get ready for the district, and we knew it was going to be rough playing all of these 6A schools (Northwest Rankin, Starkville, Tupelo, and Columbus) at the beginning of the year," Miller said. "They know that everything is coming and that is just a matter of time."
Stanford hopes the same will be true for Columbus, which will open its district play next week at Tupelo. Faced with the prospect of competing against state powers like South Panola and Olive Branch and other strong programs like Southaven and an improving Starkville squad, Stanford knows his team will be challenged to earn a playoff berth as one of the district''s top four teams.
First, though, Stanford said Columbus will have to take care of a dangerous Louisville team.
"You can tell they''re getting a lot more physical with each ballgame," Stanford said. "The biggest thing on defense is they''re not real big but they are fast. They''re a lot like Noxubee County in that they will try to shoot the gaps and run their linebackers through hard. Offensively, I really don''t know what to work on because it will depend if their running or throwing quarterback is going to be there. It is going to be an adjustment at the start of the game depending on which one is in the game."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
ready4achange commented at 9/17/2010 12:09:00 PM:
LET'S GO FALCONS!!!
1. Starkville Academy beats Heritage Academy to reach title game HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. MSU baseball team bounces back, beats Jackson State COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU baseball team focused on moving forward COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Ranked tests await MSU softball team COLLEGE SPORTS