STARKVILLE -- Brandon Heavens is no longer a secret. The sophomore wide receiver, who played sparingly last season, broke out Saturday with a five catch, 112-yard performance in the Mississippi State football team's 49-7 victory against Memphis.
Von Smith didn't think he was ready. After all, he was only a freshman and he couldn't be trusted to run a varsity offense, right? It was natural last season for Smith, then only a freshman, to experience some doubts about his readiness to take over at quarterback for the West Oktibbeha High School football team.
The appetizer was delicious. Now bring on the main course. In five days, Dan Mullen's Mississippi State football team will get to show another ESPN audience if his team is up to the challenge. On Saturday, the Bulldogs delivered a building block -- 49-7 victory against the University of Memphis at Davis Wade Stadium -- that at least makes you stop and go hmmm.
STARKVILLE -- Efficient through the air and on the ground, Mississippi State ran riot Saturday in its season-opening 49-7 win over the University of Memphis. The Bulldogs racked up 569 yards of total offense, and redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Russell tossed four touchdown passess in his MSU debut.
STARKVILLE -- With a short-week of preparation for Thursday's matchup with Auburn, Mississippi State needed to have a thorough performance against Memphis. The Bulldogs got it on both sides of the ball Saturday, but it was their defensive pressure in first-year coordinator Manny Diaz's system that helped add to the point total and lay the groundwork for Gus Malzahn and Auburn's dynamic offense.
Bobby Berry never doubted his players. Even though the West Lowndes High School football team trailed Caledonia by one point in the second quarter, Berry knew his team's big-play potential gave it the ability to turn the momentum in a hurry. Having Antonio Wilson and Brandon Clark as weapons makes things a little easier.
AMORY -- Sometimes a slap in the face is just what a team needs. The New Hope High School football team responded from the season-opening blow with a two hits to the chin strap Friday night that helped set the tone and get it back on track. Terrance Dentry rushed for 146 yards, including an 88-yard scoring run, four other players had touchdowns, and Terrence Payne added some defensive line play with attitude in New Hope's 37-6 victory against Amory at Longenecker Field.
STARKVILLE -- The Heritage Academy Patriots took control early on the road and never looked back Friday night en route to a 22-7 victory against Starkville Academy. "They (Starkville Academy) caused us a ton of problems with their defense," Heritage Academy second-year head coach Brad Butler said. "In the second half they never gave up and stuck with it, and their quarterback (Kyle Henson) was a great athlete for them tonight."
ABERDEEN -- Shock was the operative word Friday following the Aberdeen High School football team's 34-0 victory against the previously undefeated Pontotoc Warriors. "I'm shocked by the outcome," Pontotoc High veteran head coach Charlie Dampeer said. "Nobody has challenged us at the line of scrimmage like Aberdeen did, and I don't remember getting whipped this bad in a long, long time.
CRAWFORD -- With the exception of a spirited third-quarter push from the home team, Friday's West Oktibbeha-East Oktibbeha rivalry game was all Timberwolves. West Oktibbeha's receiving corps quickly introduced itself to East Oktibbeha's secondary on the third play of the team's first drive with an 80-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Von Smith to junior receiver Dwight Quinn. The relationship proved fruitful, as Smith racked up 370 yards and four touchdowns to help West Oktibbeha earn a 29-20 victory.
REFORM, Ala. -- Sometimes football games are over long before the final horn sounds. Seventh-ranked Pickens County scored 34 points in the first quarter Friday night en route to a 48-7 victory against Shades Mountain Christian. The Tornadoes (2-0) ran only 22 offensive plays in the first half to amass their point total. Pickens County finished with 353 yards offense, including 261 rushing yards.
MILLBROOK, Ala. -- Landon Ellis scored all four of his team's touchdowns Friday night to lead the Victory Christian football team past New Life Christian 27-6. Ellis scored on a 10-yard run and caught touchdown passes of 81 and 43 yards from Marcus Sims in the first quarter. He scored on a 23-yard run in the second quarter. Ellis rushed for 112 yards on 11 carries and caught three passes for 148 yards.
AMORY -- Terrance Dentry rushed for 146 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown run in the second half, Friday night to lead the New Hope High School football team to a 37-6 victory against Amory at Longenecker Field.
When the Mississippi State and University of Memphis football teams square off Saturday, they'll do so with similar situations at quarterback. Memphis will debut first-year starter and sophomore Cannon Smith, whom first-year head coach Larry Porter hopes will play well enough to help the Tigers avoid having to use a multi-quarterback carousel like they did last season. MSU has a slight advantage, as junior Chris Relf scored seven touchdowns and finished second on the team in rushing last season.
CALEDONIA -- Ball control versus big plays is a simplistic way to promote tonight's Lowndes County matchup between Caledonia and West Lowndes. A better way to examine the matchup at 7:30 tonight at West Lowndes featuring the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A Confederates (0-2) and the Class 2A Panthers (1-1) would be to say that both teams are still working to establish their identities.
Sometimes, the desire to teach the basics trumps the rush of coaching at a higher level. Known as "moving down the ladder," coaches who leave the college game to work with high school athletes often rediscover the joy of developing a player from scratch. They're taken back to a time when they were slightly older than their pupils, teaching the game while still in their own coaching infancy.
Michael Bradley hopes he sees a different group tonight. It has been one week since Bradley and his New Hope High School football team stumbled in a season-opening loss to Tupelo. The loss sapped some of the optimism to the start of a season many consider could be even better than the Trojans' Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North Half runner-up finish in 2009.
Brad Butler has coached at enough levels to know football is football. Through the differences in size, strength and speed. Butler has seen in his time coaching in high school and in college and at the professional level that football is basically the same. The objective for all coaches is to find a way to get the maximum effort and focus from their players every day so they can give their best effort on game day.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School's volleyball team had one hiccup in its 3-1 win against Caledonia in Thursday's rematch -- an all too familiar one. After cruising to a commanding 2-0 lead, the Lady Jackets stumbled in a third-set loss that nixed a straight-sets win, but more importantly drew critical analysis from their head coach. Starkville coach Lauren Love was happy to see her team extend its home unbeaten streak to five games, but bemoaned a lapse in focus and poor court organization in the third set. Starkville nearly lost the first set after Caledonia (10-7) went on a 9-0 tear to tie the set at 20
STARKVILLE -- Through two weeks, the Starkville High School football team's defense has been dominant. Now comes a championship-caliber test against No. 2-ranked Meridian.
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