STARKVILLE -- Shrouded in mystery Monday at Mississippi State football press conference was quarterback Chris Relf, who wasn't present but was the hot topic ahead of the team's season opener against the University of Memphis at 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU) at Davis Wade Stadium.
MILLPORT, Ala. -- Jordan Smith knew he had to take control. Faced with the challenge of transitioning from halfback to quarterback, the 5-foot-8, 165-pound junior wasn't sure how he would fair in his first action at quarterback since his pee wee football days.
Call it what you will -- mojo, rhythm, or focus -- but the Victory Christian volleyball team had it working in the final two games Monday night. The Lady Eagles needed every last bit of momentum they could muster to stave off elimination and rally for a 3-2 victory against Pickens Academy.
CARROLLTON, Ala. -- The Pickens Academy varsity cheerleaders attended the UCA/AISA Cheer camp in Montgomery, Ala., and returned home wiith the state championship trophy. The cheerleaders prepared for the camp all summer that was held July 19-23. Their extra effort paid off when they earned the 2010- 2011 Alabama Independent School Association Varsity East Division state champion cheerleading squad, first place in the home pom competition, first place in extreme routine and second place in camp cheer awards.
TUPELO -- Anticipation was high in the Starkville High School cross country camp entering Saturday's season opener. The Yellow Jackets didn't disappoint. Starkville's boys finished second in the Tupelo Cross Country Invitational, finishing behind the host team in the Class 4A-6A run. Starkville assistant coach Joe MacGown was exited about the meet, believing the Yellow Jackets made strides in closing the gap between themselves and Tupelo.
TUPELO -- The New Hope High School football team took pride last season in its ability to deliver a big play when it needed one. The Trojans' knack for timing helped them beat Jackson Callaway and Ridgeland in dramatic fashion and advance to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North Half title game. Those big plays were nowhere to be found Friday night in the 2010 season opener against Tupelo. Instead, Ashton Shumpert took center stage for the Golden Wave, rushing for two touchdowns and returning an interception for another to lead Tupelo to a 33-23 victory.
Harold Wisdom doesn't have age on his side when it comes time to thinking about past decisions that can help him when a game in on the line. But the first-year Winston Academy football head coach didn't need experience to know his team was going to go for a victory. On the road, the decision to eschew a potential game-tying point after kick might have made for a long ride back home to Louisville if it didn't work.
CRAWFORD -- A traditional rivalry turned ugly Friday night as the West Lowndes High School football team topped East Oktibbeha 20-12 on the Titans' home field, but it wasn't due to a lack of sportsmanship. The teams totaled 21 penalties in a stop-and-go game punctuated by offsides calls, delays, and illegal procedures, as both teams continue to shake off the summer rust.
MABEN -- For a quarter, the contrasting styles of the East Webster and West Oktibbeha high school football teams had quite the shootout brewing. Then, the Wolverines started scoring at will and limited the Timberwolves' aerial attack to horizontal passes in a 55-27 victory. East Webster quarterback Ledrick Patterson answered West Oktibbeha's Von Smith's two first-quarter touchdown passes with a pair of touchdown runs.
LOUISVILLE -- There is no doubt who the engineer is going to be on the Starkville High School football train this year. Senior quarterback Jaquez Johnson rushed for a game-high 136 yards on 12 carries and connected on a 27-yard touchdown pass on a beautifully executed fade route to Gabe Myles in the corner of the end zone Friday night to fuel a dominating 34-0 win against Louisville.
MILLPORT, Ala. -- Josh Harper hopes this game sets the tone for the South Lamar High School football team. Locked in a battle with one of its most heated rivals, the Stallions waited until the final minute to work some magic -- and deliver a dagger. Quarterback Jordan Smith lofted an 18-yard scoring strike to Nick Fisher with 53 seconds remaining to help lift South Lamar to a 27-20 victory against Lamar County.
The Victory Christian Academy football team soared past Ellwood Christian, of Selma, Ala., 46-0 in its season opener Friday night. Victory Christian led 20-0 after the first quarter and went on to lead 40-0 at halftime en route to its 23rd win in a row. The Eagles didn't score in the third quarter and tacked on their final points in the fourth. Landon Ellis scored three touchdowns to spark the Eagles. He caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Sims in the first quarter and scored on runs of 54 yards and 28 yards in the second.
STARKVILLE -- For every stud freshman who takes college football by storm, there are five times as many first-year players who won't see the game field for at least a year. The process of using a "redshirt" year is common in all sports, as student-athletes are allowed five years to play four. Athletes can use a redshirt season for a variety of reasons and at any year of their eligibility, though in football it's most commonly used for an injury or in a player's first year on campus. In football, where physical development is exponentially vital because of the contact involved in the sport, a freshman has a 50 percent chance of seeing the field. Roster counts at certain positions, injuries to other players, and a player's ability to transition quickly to a deeper playbook and older athletes factor into a coach's decision to redshirt a player.
The Starkville Academy girls soccer team's goal-scoring trend continued Saturday with an 8-0 win against Heritage Academy. Coming off a 7-5 loss to Madison-Ridgeland Academy, the Lady Volunteers went ahead 3-0 in the first 13 minutes through leading scorers Sallie Kate Richardson, Payton Allen, and Tiffany Huddleston. Richardson scored in each half, and Huddleston and Allen each had hat tricks to help push Starkville Academy to 3-4 and 2-1 in conference play.
TUPELO -- Turnovers and big plays never are the right mixture. The New Hope High School football team discovered that Friday night in a painful season-opening lesson.
A "communication problem" turned out to be something good for Lowndes County. That's how West Point School District Superintendent Steve Montgomery referred to the situation West Point High School faced after the Mississippi High School Activities Association informed it late last week that it had to cancel one of its 12 regular-season games.
The injuries are starting to pile up for the Columbus and Noxubee County high school football teams. That's bad news for Columbus coach Tony Stanford and Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter considering their teams will meet at 7:30 tonight in Columbus in the second game of the season. Columbus is coming off an 8-6 victory against Aberdeen, while Noxubee County defeated Starkville 14-7. The victories didn't come without losses.
Jamie Mitchell figuratively relates his job to pulling teeth when four years have passed and it's time for a new project. Because for all the work that goes into tactically rebuilding a struggling football team, just as much effort is rightfully devoted to changing habits, attitudes and work routine. Starkville High School's head football coach has enjoyed a successful run of rebuilding programs into division-winning teams, but for the hours, days and months spent "getting people to buy in" there's a significant amount of stress levied on the boss.
Finally. The New Hope High School football team knew it would have to wait a week to kick off its 2010 season. Knowing didn't make the wait any easier. But at 7:30 tonight the Trojans will hit kick off one of the most anticipated football seasons in school history. The first step won't be easy. New Hope will take on Class 6A Tupelo five weeks after opening practice on July 26.
STARKVILLE -- Belief is an armor and Starkville Academy's painful loss to Ackerman has only strengthened the Volunteers' assurance they're a better team. Losing to the Indians on a fourth-down play was heartbreaking as was losing in overtime to a team that ran roughshod over the Volunteers on their home field the previous season. But there's no substitute for matching another team's intensity on the road in the first game of the season. For Starkville Academy coach Jeff Terrill that is exactly what he needed to see in his debut last week.
1. Bulldogs ready to forget past, focus on Texas A&M COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Ole Miss overlooks hype, readies for No. 1 Alabama COLLEGE SPORTS
3. MSU gets good grades for first four games COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Unbeaten MSU receives high marks on defense COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Defense delivers dominating effort for Rebels COLLEGE SPORTS