STARKVILLE — Mississippi State defensive coordinator Carl Torbush believes the defensive line is the most improved part of his unit. The Bulldogs struggled in that area last season, especially when it came to stopping the run. MSU’s defense allowed opponents to rush for an average of 150.9 yards per game last year, which was 11th out of the 12 programs in the Southeastern Conference.
STEENS — Immanuel Christian football coach Shawn Gates said he noticed some positives in Friday night’s 36-22 loss to the Central Academy Vikings. The biggest positive, Gates said, is sophomore running back Michael Tate. “There was a lot of courage out of Michael Tate,” he said. “When he was hurt he stepped it up and went back in.” Tate, who scored one touchdown, was instrumental in setting up all three of the Rams’ scores.
MABEN — Timakis Bell had 66 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Demetrius Obriant added 16 yards with two touchdowns Friday night to help the East Webster High School football team defeat West Oktibbeha 40-0. East Webster’s defense sparked the victory. The Wolverines had four interceptions — two by Miguel Graham and one each by Obriant, and Ryan Johnson. Brennan Sparks and Obriant also helped East Webster recover two fumbles to give it excellent field position.
GREENWOOD –– The Oak Hill Academy Raiders rallied in the second half, but lost to Pillow Academy 48-21 on Friday night. Oak Hill Academy outscored Pillow Academy 21-7 in the second half after trailing 41-0 at halftime. Quarterback Davis Clayton got the Raiders (0-2) on the scoreboard in the third quarter when he scored on a 10-yard run. Jake Orman scored twice for the Raiders in the final quarter on runs of 12 and 15 yards.
REFORM, Ala. –– The Pickens County Tornadoes made a winner of Scott Marchant in his debut as head coach Friday night by doubling up Greensboro 48-24. The victory helped Pickens County atone for a 26-21 loss to Greensboro in its season opener last season. “It’s thrilling,” Marchant said of his getting his first win as a head coach. “It’s good to get that first one out of the way. I feel blessed. We’ve got a lot of good kids, a lot of good football players, and a great football staff helping me. I’m glad I could be a part of it.”
ABERDEEN — Valentine’s Day is still months away, but Ray Brooks’ defense left Lester Miley Stadium with ‘Love’ on their minds. Aberdeen senior running back Jamerson Love accumulated 316 all-purpose yards and scored five touchdowns Friday night in the Bulldogs’ 52-14 blowout. “I knew the team was depending on me, so I just put them on my back,” Love said. “I just try to practice hard and play hard. That’s the best game I have ever had since I’ve played at Aberdeen High School.” Love, a 5-foot-11, 175-pounder, picked up 238 yards on 16 carries and four touchdowns. He caught a pair of passes for 78 yards and another score.
VERNON, Ala. — Lance Bobbitt, Carson Chiquito, and Marquis Plant are going to try to bring the mohawk back to Lamar County High School. The seniors didn’t have much luck in the preseason convincing their teammates the hairdo was the way to go. Things just might change after Friday night. Plant caught two touchdown passes from Michael Bradford, Bobbitt rushed for another score, and Chiquito played a key role up front to help the Lamar County football team defeat South Lamar 61-20 in the season opener for both teams at George Bell Stadium.
LOUISVILLE — It was a double dose of déja vu for the Winston Academy Patriots and their fans Friday night. When Heritage Academy backup fullback Stance Henderson broke three tackles and raced 54 yards for a game-winning touchdown with 3 minutes, 27 seconds to play in the game, Winston Academy fans had to think back to memories of Henderson’s father, Joey, who starred at running back for the school’s undefeated 1975 state championship team and also wore No. 5. Winston Academy’s 13-12 loss to Heritage Academy also was eerily similar to its last-minute meltdown last week against Leake Academy, when it dominated the first half but surrendered the lead late in the second half.
The final statistics Friday night indicated the West Lowndes High School football team’s game against East Oktibbeha was a close one. But the score, 26-0 in favor of the Panthers, told a different story. Subplot A was the four interceptions the Panthers made against quarterback Chris Hunter. Subplot B was the Titans’ ability to move the football between the 20s, racking up 173 total rushing yards to West Lowndes’ 159, before seeing their drives stall or end in turnovers.
STARKVILLE — Senior wide receiver Markese Triplett caught five passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Louisville High School football team to a 26-21 victory against the Starkville Yellow Jackets. The 6-foot-4 receiver and University of Southern Mississippi commitment had an 87-yard touchdown reception on the second play from scrimmage to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead. He added a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter. “He’s just a playmaker,” Starkville coach Bill Lee said. “Louisville did a great job coaching tonight and getting the ball to the right guys.”
MACON — Noxubee County High School football coach M.C. Miller still has some offensive weapons to put on the field while quarterback/wide receiver/free safety Vincent Sanders recovers from a fractured jaw. Running backs Patreon Hopkins and Jontae Skinner each scored a touchdown Friday night to help the defending Class 4A state champions beat Columbus 23-12. The Tigers (2-0) prefer the passing game, but Miller has no problem going to the running game while sophomore quarterback Jared Johnson gets used to the system.
Football coaches drill the importance of the fourth-quarter effort into their teams. Many will pace the sidelines holding up four fingers and shouting “fourth quarter.” The last 12 minutes sometimes involves a team blowing a lead due to exhaustion or sloppy play or players emerging to make a big play. The latter happened Friday night for the New Hope High School football team in a 28-17 victory against Tupelo in the season opener for both teams.
STARKVILLE — Records sometimes don’t tell the entire story. Artie Cosby has been around sports long enough to know that. Now his goal is to help the Starkville Academy girls soccer team put a few more victories on the left side of the ledger. Haley Jenkins, Jessica Dennis, and Sallie Kate Richardson each scored two goals Saturday to help the Starkville Academy girls soccer team defeat Heritage Academy 8-0.
The challenge has been set for the Mississippi State women’s basketball team. Now coach Sharon Fanning-Otis wants the Lady Bulldogs to go from earning “good” wins to chalking up “great” ones. The team’s 2009-10 schedule, which was released Friday morning, should afford MSU plenty of chances to earn the signatures victories that allow teams to secure postseason bids.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State junior tight end Thomas Webb knows about homesickness. After graduating from Starkville High School in 2005, Webb saw an opportunity to leave home and play for coach Jeff Bower at Southern Mississippi. Webb had an offer to attend MSU, but he didn’t think it was the right thing to do and was ready to leave town.
HAMILTON — Brandon Bell admits he is still figuring everything out. You can’t blame the Caledonia High School sophomore. He has had to move to a new position, he has had to adjust to a new coach and a new offense, and he had had to shoulder the expectations and the responsibility for being a team leader. That’s a lot to digest, even for the most experienced player.
If the first week of the season is any indication, it will be a game of contrasting styles when Heritage Academy plays at Winston Academy on Friday.
MACON — Programs don’t win state championships with one player. Standouts can play key roles, but the labors of one player will take a team only so far. The Noxubee County High School football team intends to show people in the state of Mississippi it is more than one player.
STARKVILLE — The presence of former Mississippi State football coach Jackie Sherrill at last Saturday’s closed scrimmage didn’t violate any of the parameters set forth in the self-imposed penalties for an incident that occurred during spring practice.
FULTON — Tevin Blanchard didn’t expect to wind up at Itawamba Community College. As a standout on the Aberdeen High School football team last season, Blanchard entertained dreams of earning a scholarship to play major Division I college football.
1. More younger pitchers having Tommy John surgery COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Bradley becomes New Hope's first Scholar-Athlete HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Columbus, New Hope, Heritage Academy gearing up for playoffs HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Mitchell's complete game propels MSU past Missouri COLLEGE SPORTS
5. White beats Crimson in A-Day Game COLLEGE SPORTS