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.
Tyrone Shorter has seen the opponents come and go. Whether it has been Aberdeen, Columbus, Meridian, New Hope, or Starkville, to name just a few, the Noxubee County High School football program always has looked to schedule the toughest teams possible.
Jon Williams wants to see how much his players have invested in this season. The first-year Itawamba Community College football coach will get to see how much his players have "bought in" to his system at 7 tonight when his team plays host to Hinds C.C.
STARKVILLE -- Transitioning into game-week, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has decided to give his players more time to focus on Saturday's season opener against Memphis. That decision meant less time for media interviews for some, and none for the majority of the Bulldogs, who kick off the season Saturday against Memphis.
SCOOBA -- Devin Hawkins learned a lot in his first season at East Mississippi Community College. Not only did he get stronger and quicker, but he gained a new appreciation for junior college football. But all of that improvement was nearly wiped out earlier this year. In April, Hawkins thought he had a stomach virus while training in practice. Whatever the ailment, it was bad enough that it made him unable to complete his work.
Some players might take 100 percent for granted. But it's easy to believe nothing can go wrong when you never have suffered a serious injury. Jackson State players Javarius Conner and Andre' Wright plan to show people this season what they can do when they finally are fully recovered. They might not be there yet, but the former Noxubee County High School standouts intend to make a statement at some point this season.
In struggling to a 1-9 record a season ago, the South Lamar Stallions were served their share of humble pie.. South Lamar lost eight games by 26 points or more, and for the season was outscored 370-121. Using last season as motivation, this season has started off much better for the Stallions. South Lamar kicked off the season Friday by beating rival Lamar County 27-20 to avenge a 61-20 setback, its worse loss of 2009.
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.
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