STARKVILLE –– Anthony Dixon doesn’t shy away from a challenge. That’s just what Mississippi State’s new all-time leading rusher will get against the University of Florida. Something will have to give at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) when one of the nation’s top defenses takes on one of the country’s top rushing attacks. Dixon expects a “grind it out game,” and that’s the type he likes.
SCOOBA — The No. 7 East Mississippi Community College football team extended its MACJC North Division winning streak to 15 on Thursday by beating Mississippi Delta 28-10 at Sullivan-Windham Field. With its top-rated offense not clicking on all cylinders in the regular-season finale, EMCC (8-1) got a huge special teams boost from freshman wide receiver British Footman, who had 215 return yards on two kickoff returns and a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown. Entering the contest ranked first nationally with an average of 513.9 yards of total offense per game, EMCC failed to score in the first quarter for the first time this season.
The “practice” jerseys survived. More importantly, the New Hope High School football team escaped Saltillo last week with a 6-0 victory. The win in conditions New Hope High coach Michael Bradley likened to the “worst pigpen” he had ever seen helped the Trojans continue their march toward a No. 2 seed in Class 5A, Region 1 and the opportunity to play a first-round North State playoff game at home. New Hope (6-1, 3-1 region) will try to take another step closer to securing its postseason fate at 7 tonight when it travels to Clarksdale (3-5, 2-2).
STARKVILLE — Starkville High School football coach Bill Lee believed his team missed a great opportunity this past Friday. Lee said all the Yellow Jackets had to do was beat Southaven to make the Class 6A state playoffs. That didn’t happen as Starkville lost 27-16. A victory would have made things a lot easier on the Yellow Jackets, but now the playoff picture in Class 6A, Region 1 is clouded.
So much for being rusty. After four weeks of practicing, watching, and waiting to get back on the field for a Friday night game, the Victory Christian football team returned to action last week with a 66-16 victory against North River Christian in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The victory pushed the Eagles to 7-0 and set the stage for their homecoming game at 7 tonight against Tuscaloosa Christian. That game likely will determine the top seeds for the Christian Football Association playoffs, which will begin next week.
MACON — The Noxubee County High School football team’s defense never rests. At practice last season, the Tigers’ defense had to find ways to stop quarterback Termarcus Conner and a high-octane offense that featured wide receivers Patrick Patterson, Teddy Young, Vincent Sanders and others and a host of other weapons. This year, Patterson has moved on to the University of Mississippi and a number of the Tigers’ 2008 stalwarts on offense and defense are now playing football in college.
MABEN — You gotta believe. The tears on Dwight Quinn’s face Thursday night showed just how much he and his West Oktibbeha High School football teammates believe. Trailing by 18 points early in the third quarter, the Timberwolves used a punt return for a touchdown by Quinn to change the momentum. From there, West Oktibbeha dominated the rest of the second half and carried that energy into the first overtime.
Bubba Davis hopes last week was just the beginning. The Columbus High School football coach will find out Friday if the Falcons have started a trend when they play host to Horn Lake at 7 p.m. in a Class 6A, Region 1 game at Columbus Stadium. Columbus (2-6, 1-3 region) is coming off a 12-7 victory against DeSoto Central that snapped its 10-game losing streak in region games. Sophomore running back Damian Baker rushed for a career high 224 yards and two touchdowns to help keep the Falcons in contention for one of the top four spots in the region and a playoff berth.
Josh Harper credits Rusty Funk with helping him advance through the ranks to become a head football coach. Harper was an assistant to Funk at Columbus High School and at South Lamar High School in Millport, Ala. Harper will get a chance Friday to show his mentor what he learned when he coaches against Funk. Harper, who replaced Funk as the coach at South Lamar, will coach against his mentor at 7 p.m. Friday when the Stallions travel to Marion County in Guin, Ala., for an Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A, Region 7 game.
Region championships will be at stake Friday night when the Lamar County Bulldogs and Pickens County Tornadoes take the field. Lamar County will claim the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A, Region 7 championship and Pickens County will capture the Class 2A, Region 4 title with victories. Both have the task of trying to win region championships on the road, with Lamar County playing at Winston County and Pickens County traveling to Fultondale.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State offensive line coach John Hevesy said going against the University of Florida will be different for him. When Hevesy left Florida to join Dan Mullen’s staff at Mississippi State he knew it meant one day having to see the players he helped recruit at Florida. That’s something he has never experienced. MSU plays host to Florida at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) and Hevesy admits it will be a little strange.
University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer can tell when his players, assistant coaches and support staff are feeling the pressure. When a program has won two out of the last three national championships and has been highly ranked over that span, it’s only natural to have an overwhelming desire to hold on to that standing. That’s the challenge No. 2 Florida (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) has once again as the Gators travel to play Mississippi State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).
Quartney Cox and Avis Shelton are inseparable. The two offensive linemen have been side by side during their football careers at West Point High School and East Mississippi Community College in Scooba. They are even roommates at EMCC. “Everyone thinks we follow each other around,” Shelton said. With Scooba only being a 40-minute drive from West Point, Shelton and Cox have been able to enjoy their junior college careers and stay close to home.
MABEN — Numbers don’t tell the whole story at East and West Oktibbeha high schools. If they did, the schools’ football teams would be doomed for failure.
There is shared optimism about the Mississippi State women’s basketball team. Members of the Southeastern Conference and national media picked MSU to finish fifth in the Southeastern Conference this season and selected senior guard Alexis Rack as a member of the All-SEC preseason first team on Tuesday.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow share a special bond. What began as a relationship between a quarterback and his position coach has become a valued friendship.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State senior quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, said it will be “an extreme honor” to step onto the same field as University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
When David Dale signed a scholarship to play football at Millsaps College, Pat Byrd thought it was a good choice. Time has proven the Amory High School coach to be right about his former player.
There’s only one thing better than winning a North State championship. The Hamilton and New Hope High School slow-pitch softball teams experienced that feeling Saturday at the V.A. Fields in Jackson when they won the Class 2A and Class 5A championships, respectively.
STARKVILLE — It has made for interesting talk around the football locker room at Mississippi State. There has been a running debate among the Bulldogs about which state, Mississippi or Florida, has the better high school talent.
1. Looney has helped EMCC's offensive line develop COLLEGE SPORTS
2. MSU volleyball looks to continue progression COLLEGE SPORTS
3. New recruiting rules help fuel EMCC's success COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Columbus, Starkville split in basketball HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. MSU women use strong first half to beat Alabama State COLLEGE SPORTS