CARROLTON, Ala. — Jacob Acker doesn’t have a preference. He doesn’t even have to have the ball in his hands. When you’re running an offense that is as much fun as the spread option, the points just have a way of piling up on the scoreboard. It also helps to have a versatile array of players.
Columbus High School junior defensive lineman Ian Williams was thankful to be in the right place at the right time. Even though it took a while to determine who blocked the extra point that enabled Columbus beat Aberdeen 27-26 in double overtime Friday night, Williams was glad he could be a difference maker.
The soggy conditions Friday night couldn’t stop Heritage Academy’s Will West from discovering where his passion on the football field lies. Heritage Academy coach Brad Butler said West has played nearly every position but has finally found his role as a senior. “I asked him earlier in the fall, ‘Do you like being a wide receiver or do you feel like a tight end?’ ” Butler said. “(Will) said, ‘Well, I feel weird about it, but coach, I like being a wide receiver.’ ”
MACON — The Noxubee County High School football team picked up where it left off last season. The Tigers pitched seven shutouts in 2008 en route to the Class 4A State championship. On Friday night, the Tigers notched their first shutout of 2009 with a 30-0 victory against Starkville in the season opener for both teams.
SHANNON — Someone had to make one more play. Michael Carr appeared to have what the West Point High School football team needed. But Keon McGaughy snatched what Carr couldn’t hold to give Shannon High exactly what it wanted. McGaughy caught a ball that tipped off Carr’s hands for a 29-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds remaining to lift Shannon to a 27-20 victory in the season opener for both teams.
MABEN — The West Lowndes High School football team began its season Friday with a 30-6 road victory against West Oktibbeha in a game that involved plenty of hard hits.
Intermittent downpours of rain throughout the day failed to dampen anticipation for Victory Christian School’s Friday night opening home football game against Bessemer’s Flint Hill Christian School. Enjoying an 11-game winning streak, including two 2008 playoff wins, the Eagles’ big-play offense dominated en route to a 57-16 Christian Football Association (eight-man) division victory in the season opener for both teams.
STARKVILLE — Ackerman High School senior running back Shawn Stricklin delivered a lights-out performance in more ways than one Friday night in the season opener against Starkville Academy. Stricklin rushed for a career-high four touchdowns and 124 yards to lead the Indians to a 55-2 victory.
STEENS — Tyler Edwards had 107 yards rushing and Cody Taylor added 91 Friday night to lead the Hatley High School football team to a 60-0 victory against Immanuel in the season opener for both teams.
LOUISVILLE — It wasn’t quite the way Louisville High School junior running back Blake Cunningham envisioned starting the 2009 football season. Cunningham, who is being counted on to shoulder a lot of the ball-toting load vacated by the departure of Dandy Dozen Mississippi State signee Dennis Thames, fumbled the ball away on Louisville’s first play of the game.
AMORY — All things being equal, execution, effort, and experience more times than not will decide the outcome of a football game. That was the case here Friday night, as the Nettleton Tigers capitalized on a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers to grab a 19-15 non-division victory against the Amory Panthers.
NEWNAN, Ga. –– The Pickens Academy Pirates scored their most points in a game in three seasons to make Sam Pearson a winner in his debut Friday as the team’s coach. Pickens Academy turned a defensive first half into a rout, defeating the Heritage School 56-36.
OXFORD — Each season brings a new sense of energy for Steve Holeman. This season, though, will be unique for the University of Mississippi women’s soccer coach. The Lady Rebels will rely on the experience of 11 returning players, but they also will count on contributions from 15 freshmen who are part of a class of 18 newcomers. The group of newcomers is the largest since Holeman was hired as the program’s first and only coach in 1994.
CALEDONIA — Shaina Cruse feels like she is part of history. With each practice and match she plays, the senior setter grows a little more comfortable with her Caledonia High School volleyball teammates. Cruse, who also plays goalkeeper on the school’s girls soccer team, has been playing volleyball for only two years, but she dives on the floor to keep loose balls alive with the same hustle she throws her body at soccer balls. To watch Cruse play volleyball, you wouldn’t know she is a newcomer to the sport.
STARKVILLE — It wasn’t really all about winning Saturday at the Starkville Sportsplex softball fields. Although scores were kept, the main purpose of the sixth-annual College Exposure Tournament was to showcase the talent of the 14 Mississippi Association of Independent School teams participating. The tournament was directed by the Delta State softball team, and it gave coach Kasey Charles and her staff a front-row seat to watch potential recruits.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State basketball team spokesman Gregg Ellis confirmed Saturday morning that sophomore backup point guard Twany Beckham plans to have hip surgery and will be out for the season. “He’s got bone spurs in both hips and will have surgery in a couple of weeks,” Ellis said. Beckham, who was experiencing chronic pain because of the condition, will have surgery on one side, then undergo several months of rehabilitation before having the same procedure done on the other side.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State junior wide receiver Kyle Roberts likes to be in game-like situations in scrimmages. That’s because it gives the former East Oktibbeha and East Mississippi Community College player more chances to impress his coaches. Roberts believes he continues to make strides since walking on to the program in the spring. He said he hopes to continue to take advantage of every opportunity afforded to him.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen didn’t let a little bit of rain Thursday night chase his Bulldogs inside the Palmeiro Center. The rain didn’t become a factor. A heavy afternoon downpour turned into a steady rain by evening an then all but ended before practice began.
So much for scheduling a cream puff in your season opener. Columbus High School’s Bubba Davis, West Point High’s Chris Chambless, and Noxubee County’s M.C. Miller all have high hopes for their football teams this season. They agree there is no better way to put those hopes to the test than to schedule a difficult opponent in the first game of the season. Each coach will get to do that tonight when Columbus plays host to Aberdeen, West Point travels to Shannon, and Noxubee County plays host to Starkville.
High school football programs are looking for ways to deal with the struggling economy. So when teams can schedule non-conference games close to home that’s what they’re going to do. That’s the main reason Immanuel Christian of Columbus will play host to Hatley High School, while Ackerman High School will travel to Starkville Academy.
1. New attitude helps New Hope's Earhart HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. MSU softball faces tough draw in opener COLLEGE SPORTS
3. New Hope goes small to beat Hernando in game one HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Becker wants to make most of MSU's trip to regional COLLEGE SPORTS
5. MSU ready for big series vs. South Carolina COLLEGE SPORTS