John Dixson is a pioneer. Dixson, 43, can remember the “dark” days when nearly anything went in Mixed Martial Arts. Bare knuckles, groin shots, elbows, no time-limit matches — you name it and Dixson probably has seen it and dished it out in more than 13 years of competition around the world. Looking back to the origins of MMA, Dixson is surprised the sport has grown so quickly in a relatively short amount of time.
Nearly all the coaches contacted Saturday night were pleased with their teams’ performances Friday night in jamboree/scrimmage action across the state. Some, like Immanuel first-year Shawn Gates, might have gotten a little hoarse from all of the excitement. But many of the coaches and teams won’t have a lot of time to spend fine-tuning things. The majority of Mississippi High School Activities Association schools in the area will play classic games Friday, while Mississippi Association of Independent Schools also will kick off the season Friday.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen knew poor field conditions were going to prevent the Bulldogs from playing games last season. The lack of adequate drainage at Dudy Noble Field after inclement weather led to the cancellation of the final game of the Nicholls State series March 1, the Mississippi Valley State game March 31, and the middle game of the Alabama series May 2. Cohen believes the renovations to the baseball field will help improve the team’s chances of playing all its home games every year.
STARKVILLE — Starkville Quarterback Club President Larry Graves is excited about the prospects for a good year. The club, which promotes Mississippi State football throughout the season, begins its 44th season of meetings Sept. 3. Meetings are held on each Thursday night during the season at the Starkville Country Club on Montgomery Street. A social hour begins at 6 p.m. The meal, announcement of door prizes, and speakers starts at 7 p.m.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen hates to see the last week of two-a-day practice sessions end. Mullen liked the home-away-from-home setting at the intramural fields across campus and wished he had more time there. “The players came out and battled,” Mullen said. “They came out with the right attitude. There were really hard practices Saturday.” With the start of classes Monday, the Bulldogs will return to the team practice fields Tuesday. The team is scheduled to hold meetings, to have brunch, to visit the team chapel, to watch film and to lift weights today.
STARKVILLE — The Starkville High School football team showed its fans Thursday night what it can do in a one-hour scrimmage. The scrimmage was part of “Meet the Players Night,” and Starkville High football coach Bill Lee was careful not to show too much because Noxubee County coach M.C. Miller was one of several coaches at the game. The Yellow Jackets will take on the defending Class 4A state champions Aug. 21 in Macon.
The New Hope High School slow-pitch softball team is going to have a little bit of everything this season. The Lady Trojans are young and inexperienced at several positions. Coach Tabitha Beard’s team also has an assortment of “older” players who have been with the program for two to three years and who are used to advancing deep into the playoffs and competing for state titles. Last season was no exception.
FULTON — Evan Lackey wants to help the Itawamba Community College football team get back to the playoffs. One year after playing at ICC, Anthony Lackey, Evan’s brother, wants to help his new team at Kentucky Wesleyan reach the same goal. Evan Lackey will begin that journey at 5 p.m. today when ICC plays Copiah-Lincoln in a scrimmage at Lambert Stadium. The game action will be the first for the former Amory High School standout, who has impressed the coaches in the past few months.
STARKVILLE — Nothing Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen saw Thursday in the team’s first full scrimmage of the season gave one quarterback an edge. After observing the two-hour scrimmage, Mullen said senior Tyson Lee, of Columbus, and sophomore Chris Relf are “dead even.” Mullen went on to say it probably would be a three-man race if freshman Tyler Russell had enrolled at MSU in January and would have participated in spring practice.
STARKVILLE — A year ago, Lyndsey Haynes was trying to find her groove. A torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee forced her to wear a brace that affected her delivery. The injury also left the right-handed pitcher on the Starkville Academy fastpitch softball team wondering whether she would regain her form. But last weekend Haynes showed she has found her groove again.
STARKVILLE –– Mississippi State entered the second week of preseason football practice Monday and none of the players are confident enough to say they have earned a starting position. Senior quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, said there’s competition at every position, which is just the way coach Dan Mullen wants it. “It’s wide open on offense and defense,” Lee said. “Coach continues to stress that. Whoever wants the job, that’s who he is going to give it to.”
STARKVILLE -- Before wrapping her arm in ice after pitching four games on Saturday, Starkville Academy’s Lyndsey Haynes got to wrap her hands on a championship trophy. The Lady Volunteers remained in the winner’s bracket throughout and won the Starkville Invitational Tournament for the first time. The event was held at the Mississippi State Recreation Complex. Starkville Academy (8-1) defeated Winston Academy 6-3, Central Academy 8-7 and Pillow Academy 8-0 and 5-4 in eight innings to claim the title.
STARKVILLE — Jenny Hazelwood’s excitement is contagious. It took only one hour in the team’s first meeting Thursday for the new Mississippi State volleyball coach to get her players fired up. That energy carried over to the court Friday when the team opened its preseason with a pair of practices. “She is 100 percent invested in our program,” senior setter Dorey Gray said Friday. “She is so good at inspiring us and knowing when to say the right things to us.”
STARKVILLE — The Humphrey Coliseum at Mississippi State is going through some changes. In the past few weeks, new lighting has been installed and upgraded in the arena and a new arrangement of banners has been put in place. Renovations to the women’s basketball locker room recently were completed, and the men’s locker room is being refurbished. The installation of a new basketball court with new MSU marks and logos is another piece of the athletic department’s $2.1 million investment to enhance all of the facilities on campus.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State opened two-a-day football practices on Saturday with a two-hour session in the morning and a shorter workout in the afternoon. The Bulldogs have changed locations from the football practice fields to the intramural field where they could be alone. Well, almost. “We’re in training camp now and it’s a work-oriented location,” Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said. “We’re away from the fans and the media. When we got out there, it was just us and the cows. The cows were up on a hill in the next field over. They were out early. We might have to get up and go earlier (today) so we can beat the cows out to work.”
STARKVILLE -- Derek Sherrod has always had a family member available to encourage him at Mississippi State. He just didn’t always realize it. One of the reasons Sherrod chose to play at Mississippi State was because his older brother, Dezmond, was already there as a tight end in Sylvester Croom’s West Coast offense. After Dezmond graduated and signed a free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Derek missed having a family member around. That’s until Sherrod found out he had a cousin also with the Bulldogs in Tobias Smith.
WEST POINT –– The Heritage Academy Lady Patriots had a run taken off the scoreboard Thursday afternoon, but didn’t need it to claim a 5-3 victory against Oak Hill Academy. The Lady Patriots (2-1) scored three runs in the second inning and would have scored four if one hadn’t been taken away. The Lady Patriots thought they tied the score 2-2 in the second when Logan Waggoner crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice and the home plate umpire extended his arms to signal safe.
STARKVILLE –– The girls who make up the Starkville Academy soccer team weren’t born when Artie Cosby was a record-breaking kicker at Mississippi State. All they know is he one day he could lead them to a championship. Cosby takes over the reins as soccer coach at Starkville Academy, and he’s enjoyed preparing for the season.
The championship feeling still lingers in Krisi Boren’s mind. A year ago, the Heritage Academy girls soccer team had a season to remember, falling to River Oaks (Monroe, La.) in its first appearance in a Mississippi Private School Association (now MAIS) state title match. The landscape will be different this season for the Lady Patriots. Heritage Academy, which finished 11-4 last season, will move from Division II to Division I this season. The transition means tougher divisional games against the likes of Starkville Academy, Pillow Academy,Washington School, and Magnolia Heights.
STARKVILLE — The intensity seemed to rise with the temperatures Thursday morning at the Mississippi State football practice fields. The Bulldogs seemed to take things a little more seriously in their second day in pads. “They came out better than (Wednesday),” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “They weren’t really used to being in pads, but this was what we expect our normal practices to look like.”
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