Columbus, Heritage Academy, West Point, Noxubee County, and West Oktibbeha were among the local winners Friday night as the 2010 prep football season kicked off in earnest.
STARKVILLE -- On the eve of Mississippi State's first fall scrimmage, head coach Dan Mullen spent Thursday putting the team through controlled situations in the Palmeiro Center. Mullen and his staff wanted to get a solid day of teaching in the books before scrimmaging tonight in a closed practice at Davis Wade Stadium. Mullen hopes to see his inexperienced players execute and perform with different casts around them.
The clarity might be the first thing you notice. Even though you're several hundred feet away from the practice field, the words reverberate sharply and cause you to pick up your pace. As you turn the corner, the words slam into you, prompting you to break into a sprint. You hustle into place and hope today is a good day and that he doesn't single you out because, truth be told, he is loud and the words can get caught up in the helmet and stay with you for a while.
STARKVILLE -- Jamie Mitchell isn't the only coach who has noticed a difference in the Starkville Yellow Jackets. Tyrone Shorter, the coach of the Jackets' opponent, Noxubee County, tonight, has had plenty of opportunities to see Mitchell's players grow from shell-shocked athletes to jamboree door-busters. From the Yellow Jackets' spring game through summer 7-on-7 games hosted by Starkville, Shorter has seen similarities between the Yellow Jackets and the teams Mitchell coached at Itawamba Agricultural High.
WEST POINT -- The names change most every year. The coaches tinker and tweak positions and schemes. But the more changes that appear to hit the West Point High School football program, the more it keeps producing teams that contend for state championships. The 2010 edition doesn't figure to be any different.
One team is building toward a repeat. The other is building toward respectability. Even though it is only August, the New Hope and Columbus high school slow-pitch softball teams showed Thursday they have plenty to look forward to this season. D.J. Sanders had four hits, including three doubles, to lead a 17-hit attack in New Hope's 13-5 victory at Lady Trojan Field.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School's cross country team has its sights set on crashing Class 6A's top four with a revamped squad of returnees and transfer talent. The Yellow Jackets had two runners finish in the top 50 at last season's 6A state meet, but with the additions of Starkville Academy transfer Joseph MacGown and transfer Kamau Bostic from Virginia, the team believes it's closer to the top of the mountain. MacGown was runner up at the 2009 Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA state meet.
ACKERMAN -- The 2010 high school football season in the state of Mississippi nearly opened with a shocker. But Dakota Brasher helped script the ending many expected -- albeit it was much more difficult than expected. Brasher's 6-yard touchdown run and K.J. Woods' conversion run in overtime helped Ackerman High School rally for an 8-6 victory against Starkville Academy on Thursday night.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State fans now know what the consequences will be if they don't "Ring Responsibly" this football season. On Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., Southeastern Conference athletic directors put the finishing touches on the fine structure for artificial noisemakers, which was the final element of the June cowbell compromise between MSU and the other league members.
After missing more than a month of the season, William Beckwith hopes to be back in the lineup today for the Gulf Coast League Braves. Beckwith, a 21st-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves on June 8, hopes to see his name on the lineup card when the GCL Braves host the GCL Tigers in Kissimmee, Fla.
STARKVILLE -- The genesis of Starkville Academy's 2009 football misery, preparing for Ackerman High doesn't feel like déjà vu one year later. It's an interesting approach because for the second year in row players and coaches are positive the team can achieve a favorable result against the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A power.
STARKVILLE -- With nine seniors, it's easy to hang hopes on your most experienced players. But when that one third of your team's key players piloted the ship to a four-win season a year ago, you're pinning even more hope on that group taking a bigger step toward title-winning form.
OXFORD -- Matthew Mott always knew he wanted to be a head coach, especially a head coach in the Southeastern Conference. After seven years of working as an assistant women's soccer coach at Auburn University, Mott took a "risky" move, by his admission, to become an assistant coach at the University of Texas.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It's all about an attitude this season for the University of Alabama women's soccer team. After seasons of nine and six wins in his first two years at the school, coach Todd Bramble hopes an infusion of 11 newcomers and the maturation of his underclasswomen helps his program make strides in the Southeastern Conference.
STARKVILLE -- How does a defense maintain its big-play ability while limiting big plays? Mississippi State football coaches are banking on experience and constant attention to creating turnovers to help even out a unit that had its high and low moments a season ago. Bright spots last season included five scores from interceptions and freshmen Johnthan Banks and Corey Broomfield combining for 10 picks and four scores.
Friday night is showtime for the West Lowndes High School football team. At some point this season, coach Bobby Berry hopes the Panthers' play graduates to capital letter status. For now, though, the veteran coach would like to see his players back up all of their talk on the field. It's not that West Lowndes has been burning the phone lines with fabulous boasts. Berry is just eager to see his players prove to him their confidence -- and potential -- is real.
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