On most Friday night football games between county rivals New Hope and Caledonia high schools, the stadium exudes excitement and features packed bleachers, the aroma of charcoal grills permeating the air, bands playing fight songs, and cheerleaders keeping the spirit and enthusiasm alive. The 2009 version of this contest was anything but normal.
Louisville High School quarterback Chris Wraggs said his team’s game Friday night against Columbus was exciting because it was sloppy. Wraggs meant the playing field, as rain delayed the start of the game an hour due to the rain, and continued through the first half. The field wasn’t the only aspect of the game that was sloppy.
MADISON — It’s called “The Blind Side.” The book has been made into a soon-to-be-released movie about former University of Mississippi left tackle Michael Oher. The left tackle position is one of the highest paid in the NFL because he protects the quarterback’s blind side. On Friday night late in the third quarter, Heritage Academy senior quarterback Will Swedenburg had the Patriots on the move trailing Madison-Ridgeland Academy 21-3.
MACON — Michael Carr couldn’t look up. With teammate Curtis Virges pensively looking on by his side, standing guard to prevent anyone from entering their space, Carr stared at the turf at Shannon High School. Around him, members of the West Point High School football team tried to digest a 27-20 loss in their season opener Aug. 21.
It is a football game that no West Lowndes player will soon forget. The Panthers won’t forget their 20-0 victory against Wheeler on Friday night not because there were so many storylines. Rain forced the school’s homecoming festivities to be moved into the gym. Then, a two-hour rain delay forced West Lowndes and Wheeler to wait it out and to wonder if they would play.
OKOLONA — Despite a 24-0 lead, Aberdeen High School football team offensive coordinator Kris Pickle had a spirited meeting with his offense late in the third quarter Friday night. Unhappy with his offensive line in particular after three unproductive offensive possessions in the quarter, Pickle didn’t mince words with his charges.
WEST POINT — The Oak Hill Academy football team finally found someone it could push around, and it just happened to be the other private school in Clay County. After rain forced Oak Hill Academy to hold its homecoming ceremonies in its gym, the Raiders defeated Hebron Christian 14-0 Friday night in sopping conditions.
The defending Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A state champions have survived every test this season against teamss that are in higher classifications. The Noxubee County High School football team will get another chance to extend that streak at 7:30 tonight against Class 5A West Point High School. The Tigers (4-0) have swept Class 6A schools Starkville, Columbus, Jackson Murrah, and Greenville-Weston.
Coming off big wins last week, the Immanuel Christian and Victory Christian football teams will try to keep their momentum going tonight. Immanuel (1-3) will play host to Winona Christian, while Victory Christian (4-0) will play host to Victory Baptist. Both games will start at 7 p.m. Immanuel coach Shawn Gates, who earned his first career victory as a head coach last week, said everybody on the team, including the coaches, has been doing their part to try to help the team continue its winning ways.
Bobby Berry and Brad Butler had nights they would like to forget last Friday. The Philadelphia High School football team broke out to a 48-0 halftime lead en route to a 48-16 victory against West Lowndes, while the Lamar School used its passing attack to torch Heritage Academy 49-12. Both coaches will try to get their programs back on track tonight. The West Lowndes Panthers (3-1) will play host to Wheeler at 7:30, while the Heritage Academy Patriots travels to Madison Ridgeland Academy (7).
The New Hope High School football team will get back to work tonight against an opponent that is sure to get it primed for the start of district play. The Trojans (2-0) return from a bye week at 7:30 tonight looking to extend a winning streak when they take on county rival Caledonia (0-3). New Hope has won the past four meetings in the series. Caledonia’s 14-10 victory in 2004 is the program’s only victory in the series, dating back to 1995.
SULLIGENT, Ala. — Jimmy Lann delivered his best effort on one of the best nights to be a Lamar County Bulldog. The senior had a sack that led to a touchdown and two more key defensive plays in the final five minutes Friday night to help Lamar County defeat Sulligent 21-20 in a Class 2A, Region 7 matchup at Brown Stadium. The victory was the first for the Bulldogs (4-0) against the Blue Devils (2-2) since a 45-20 victory in 2005. It also marks the program’s best start in more than 15 years.
Kat Walsh is used to succeeding in soccer. Her ability as a scorer helped her earn Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 2004 and 2005 at Spain Park High School in Hoover, Ala. As a result, Walsh was a sought-after recruit who decided to take her skills to LSU. That’s when Walsh discovered the first choice might not always be the best choice.
SCOOBA –– East Mississippi Community College carried a No. 2 national ranking in the NJCAA/JCfootball.com poll and an undefeated record into Thursday night’s game against rival No. 13 ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. A soggy field and the threat of rain didn’t deter fans from filling EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field for the much-anticipated matchup. The Lions seemed to be in gear to continue their winning ways and offensive domination when All-America quarterback Randall Mackey hit wide receiver Lance Lewis in stride for an 80-yard opening play touchdown. With barely 18 seconds elapsed, EMCC led 7-0. But the lead was short lived as EMCC suffered a 43-26 loss.
Zach Smith knows about the potential of Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith. The Mississippi State junior safety became familiar with Larry Smith during preparation for the Alabama High School Athletic Association All-Star Game in 2005. They also spent time together attending high school football camps in Alabama and became friends. Zach played at Susan Moore High School in Altoona, Ala., while Larry Smith prepped at Prattville (Ala.) High.
The “preseason” is nearly over. That’s why Columbus High School football coach Bubba Davis is excited about his team’s matchup at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Class 4A Louisville High.
Mississippi State women’s basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis believes her program has the potential to make history this season. At least one national basketball publication believes in the Lady Bulldogs, too. Lindy’s College Basketball magazine has Mississippi State ranked No. 25 in its poll of the nation’s best teams.
Dan Mullen has a plan to build the Mississippi State football program into a winner. The first-year coach said successful recruiting will help the Bulldogs implement that plan and help them return to postseason bowl games, something they have done once (Liberty Bowl, 2007) in the past five years.
An abundance of playmakers has helped the East Mississippi Community College football team climb to No. 2 in the nation. The contributions are coming from the usual places — like All-America sophomore quarterback Randall Mackey — and plenty of unlikely sources, particularly a player with a broken hand.
Southeastern Conference teams know depth in the backfield is crucial. Vanderbilt University is glad to have it. With senior running back Jared Hawkins still unable to do very much in practice with a foot injury, freshmen Zac Stacy and Warren Norman and junior Kennard Reeves have emerged for the Commodores.
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