STARKVILLE -- The first words Jessica Dickens delivered in her post-game interview were said with a sense of relief. "How about that hitting from Bailey Wofford?" the Starkville Academy head coach asked. Indeed, her most experienced player enjoyed an all-star caliber day against opening-day spoiler Hebron Christian, putting the team a game above .500 following two wins on the bounce.
SCOOBA -- Time is ticking away for the East Mississippi Community College football team. In nine days, the No. 7 Lions will try to build off the most successful season in the school's history when they travel to Perkinston on Sept. 2 to take on No. 5 Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.
SCOOBA -- Working hard wasn't enough for Johnny Cockrell. Entering his sophomore season with the East Mississippi Community College football team, Cockrell realized he needed to do something to move up the depth chart.
MACON -- Cole Newman knows what it takes to be "The Man." A year ago, he watched teammates Hunter Campbell and Trevor Eaves do their best to lead the Central Academy football team's rushing attack. But when Campbell went down with a season-ending injury, Eaves assumed a bigger role and Newman earned an opportunity to contribute.
The timing was perfect. On Thursday, Lowndes County Schools Superintendent Mike Halford was at New Hope High School to catch some of the action between the Columbus and New Hope High School slow-pitch softball teams. Softball is one of the few sports that the two Lowndes County schools compete against each other. In the past few years, the schools haven't played each other in football and boys basketball due to problems that fans attending the matchups might have created.
ABERDEEN -- In the opener of the 2009 season it took two overtimes to decide the outcome of Columbus and Aberdeen This year's rematch also went down as an instant classic as the Falcons' defensive heroics were again enough to hold off the Bulldogs 8-6 and give first-year head coach Tony Stanford the victory in his debut. "It's so important for our program," Stanford said. "We've struggled over the last couple of years winning some so we need to get as much confidence as we can. Our kids don't have a lot (of confidence) but wins is the only way you can get it and we'll take them any way we can get them. It was sweet."
WEST POINT -- Sophomore Miller Puckett took the opening kickoff return 82 yards untouched to help Heritage Academy lead from the start Friday night en route to a 28-14 victory against Oak Hill Academy in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools season opener for both teams. "It is always good to win that first one," Heritage Academy second-year coach Brad Butler said. "Miller Puckett played well. We have to make sure we find ways to get the ball in his hands more. "We had too many penalties, but we overcame those with some big plays, but we still have to get mentally tougher so we can overcome these penalties."
It takes a lot to be a Timberwolf. With depleted numbers in recent years, the West Oktibbeha High School football team has learned how not to make excuses. Instead, the Timberwolves rely on faith, family, and heart to get them through difficult situations. The belief the Timberwolves have in themselves and in their teammates came through in shining fashion Friday night.
HAMILTON -- The Hamilton High School football team came on like gangbusters in the second half Friday night and pulled away to rout Weir 42-0 in the season opener for both teams. The game was scoreless after the opening quarter and Hamilton led 7-0 at halftime before erupting for three touchdowns in the third quarter and two touchdowns and a field goal in the fourth quarter. It was Hamilton's highest-scoring game since beating Alcorn Central 48-14 on Sept. 29, 2006, as the Lions cruised past Weir, which has won six Class A state championships.
STARKVILLE -- The ability to finish a game is a trait learned through time. On Friday, the Starkville High School football team gave up two scores to Noxubee County in the final minute of each half in a disappointing 14-7 loss to open the 2010 season. And when the Jackets had their chance late in the fourth quarter, their efforts turned south with back-to-back busted plays that squandered a first down at the Noxubee County 26.
WEST POINT -- The Mississippi High School Activities Association defending Class 5A state champions opened defense of their crown in style Friday night. Senior running back Jacoby Lee and senior quarterback Justin Cox scored the first two touchdowns and helped lead West Point to a 39-14 victory against Shannon in the season opener for both teams. Last year, Shannon beat West Point 27-20 in the first game of the season. The Green Wave then rolled off 14 consecutive victories en route to the school's six state championship.
After a one-year hiatus, the Columbus-New Hope High School football rivalry looks like it is set for a return -- next month. If everything falls into place Monday, plan to be at New Hope High School's Trojan Field at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10 to watch the Falcons and Trojans renew their rivalry. Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips said Saturday that while details remain to be finalized he said when asked about the game: "I think it is going to happen."
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen is playing some details close to the vest. Following Friday's closed scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium, Mullen was vague in his assessment of individual performances, scores and participation. So were the Mississippi State players. When asked Saturday about scoring plays or stats from the scrimmage, neither Tyler Russell nor Chris Relf could remember much other than "it went well."
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.
1. Insell makes Rebels' NCAA case COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Signs of growth everywhere for MSU in record win COLLEGE SPORTS
3. MSU baseball complete another weekend sweep COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU softball closes solid weekend in Florida COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Nineteen Bulldogs will work out at Pro Day COLLEGE SPORTS