WEST POINT — Tommy Keys and his defensive linemates don’t need an elaborate answer to explain their success. Like their counterparts on the offensive line, Keys and the rest of the West Point High School defensive linemen have a one-track mind and they explode from there. “You’ve got to want to first,” Keys said. “Everybody else relies on us because if we get blown back everybody else is going to get blown back.”
ABERDEEN — Fred Ward and Channing Ward don’t want people to forget about the Aberdeen High School football team. At the beginning of the season, the Bulldogs were the talk of the area and the state. Many people thought they were going to run the table and secure an easy road to the Class 3A state title game in Jackson. An injury to starting quarterback Aaron Andrews played a role in an opening-season loss to Class 6A Columbus and a loss to Class 4A Pontotoc in week three, but the Bulldogs have regrouped and are ready to make their playoff run.
CALEDONIA — Everything came together last season for Morgan Mansfield and the Caledonia High School boys soccer team. The first-year coach needed time to mold a senior-laden team into form, but things took off when the pieces solidified. This season, the Confederates will have to find a way to replace six seniors who played key roles in a 14-5 school-best season and a trip to the Class 4A North Half State title game. Even though Caledonia won’t be as experienced as it was last season, Mansfield is excited about what his team can accomplish this season.
Bruce Allsup likes his mix of players. Sometimes coaches have the luxury of dealing with senior-laden teams that can adjust to nearly every situation. Other years, coaches have to take a step back and start fresh with inexperienced squads. This season, Allsup figures to have a mix of both with his Heritage Academy girls basketball team. Seniors Madison Ford, Morgan Lott, and Carolina Borland will lead a 12-player team that features four juniors and five sophomores.
Everything came together Friday night for Trevor Eaves. It was motivation enough that Eaves and the Central Academy football team had to face archrival Kemper Academy on Senior Night in their regular-season finale. The game carried added motivation because Kemper Academy knocked Central Academy out of the playoffs last season. To make matters even bigger, the Vikings needed a victory to help force a tie atop the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools eight-man District I standings.
Joey Pounders usually is prepared for anything when he is out on the water. But Pounders was lounging Monday with his feet propped up on his 20-foot pontoon boat enjoying a relaxing afternoon. A tug on the line of his seven-foot pole changed that.
A variety of weapons has helped the Victory Christian football team overcome an assortment of obstacles this season. Like many of the other teams in the state of Mississippi, the Eagles have dealt with enough rain to last five seasons. The rain has left Victory Christian’s home field — as well as many of its opponents’ fields — a soggy mess.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Renee Ladner wants to make sure her players finish what they start this season. A year ago, the University of Mississippi women’s basketball team lost eight games by nine points or less. Six of those games, including a one-point loss to perennial power Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., came against Southeastern Conference opponents.
Lamar County High School football coach Ken Adams thinks it’s an accomplishment that his team made it through the regular season with an undefeated record. But Adams and the Bulldogs want more.
Central Academy, Veritas, and Calvary Christian decided to Monday to settle things on the field. Tied atop Mississippi Association of Independent Schools eight-man District I standings with 4-1 records, the teams had planned to use a coin flip Monday to decide the two teams that would advance to the playoffs. But the teams instead will play a three-way tiebreaker at 5 p.m. today at East Central Community College to decide which teams will represent the district in the playoffs.
Toughness and commitment are one to Seth Stillman. It’s something he thinks about when he is on the field and in pain Friday nights with his “brothers” on the New Hope High School football team. As difficult as it is for Stillman, a senior linebacker, to describe the intensity of that pain, he is somehow able to compartmentalize that feeling and allow his leadership skills to take over. At no time did Stillman’s presence on the field mean more than it did on Friday night in New Hope’s game against Hernando at Trojan Field.
The Mississippi State women’s basketball team is back in a familiar place. Unfortunately, it’s a situation Marneshia Richard would have liked to have avoided. But on Oct. 22 the senior point guard, who missed all of last season recovering from a knee injury, suffered what could be another season-ending knee injury.
Attorney Donald Jackson has noticed progress in the case of his client, Renardo Sidney, a Mississippi State freshman basketball player. Jackson held a meeting in his Montgomery, Ala., office Friday with MSU and NCAA representatives, and believes it could be an important step in getting Sidney eligible for the Bulldogs very soon. The NCAA has been investigating Sidney’s status as an amateur athlete since MSU signed him in April.
For the second year in a row, the Mississippi College women’s soccer team has earned a berth in the American Southwest Conference tournament. Sophomore Elizabeth Sanford has played a key role in helping the Lady Choctaws accomplish that feat. Sanford, a 2008 graduate of Starkville High School, has contributed at midfielder and helped Mississippi College make it to the tournament at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas.
Starkville Academy hopes Shane Bazzell can bring some of his state championship magic to its baseball program. Bazzell, who played baseball at New Hope High School from 1993-98 and helped the Trojans win state titles in 1996 and ’98, was named Monday the new head baseball coach at Starkville Academy. “He played at one of the best high school programs in the state and has obviously learned the game,” Starkville Academy Athletic Director Glenn Schmidt said. “He has a passion for baseball.”
Madison Ford’s busy schedule is making national news. The Heritage Academy senior learned a few weeks ago from classmate Morgan Lamb that she is one of 20 of scholar-athletes from the state of Mississippi who is a finalist for the 2009 Wendy’s High School Heisman Award program. More than 50,000 seniors applied nationwide and from that group, 10,848 school winners were selected. The 20 Mississippi state finalists were chosen from these winners.
The Golden Triangle was well represented Sunday at the 40th edition of the New York City Marathon. Six local athletes competed and finished the 26.2-mile event that featured a field of nearly 44,000 competitors that ran through New York’s five boroughs — Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. Columbus’ Brad Atkins and his wife, Melissa, posted the best finishes of any local runners. Brad finished 807th with a time of 2 hours, 58.01 seconds, while Melissa had a personal-best time of 3:56.15.
STARKVILLE — Anthony Dixon still has some unfinished business. Even after the Mississippi State senior running back had become the school’s all-time leading rusher and then rushed for a new single-game record 252 yards Saturday in a 31-24 victory against the University of Kentucky, there’s more on his mind. Dixon, who has 3,604 rushing yards, wants to help the Bulldogs make it to a postseason bowl. To do that, MSU (4-5, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) has to win two of its last three regular-season games, and Dixon wants to win all three.
Championship programs are made of this. The New Hope High School football team still has work to do before it earns a title, but it showed Saturday night it just might have the mettle to be a state contender. Terrance Dentry scored on a 1-yard plunge on fourth down in overtime and the Trojans’ defense swarmed Brandon Dennis on the final play to seal a 35-27 victory at Trojan Field.
OLIVE BRANCH — Olive Branch High School football coach Scott Samsel hadn’t called a swinging gate play in three years. He did so at just the right time Saturday afternoon. With the Conquistadors nursing a seven-point lead against Columbus with 84 seconds left in the first half, the play sprang running back Keyshun Shipp for a 41-yard gain that turned the momentum of the game at Leslie Pool Field.
1. Player of Week: Davis, Starkville off to fast start HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Bulldogs turn attention to UAB COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Heritage Academy looks to build on first win HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS