TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It's all about an attitude this season for the University of Alabama women's soccer team. After seasons of nine and six wins in his first two years at the school, coach Todd Bramble hopes an infusion of 11 newcomers and the maturation of his underclasswomen helps his program make strides in the Southeastern Conference.
STARKVILLE -- How does a defense maintain its big-play ability while limiting big plays? Mississippi State football coaches are banking on experience and constant attention to creating turnovers to help even out a unit that had its high and low moments a season ago. Bright spots last season included five scores from interceptions and freshmen Johnthan Banks and Corey Broomfield combining for 10 picks and four scores.
Friday night is showtime for the West Lowndes High School football team. At some point this season, coach Bobby Berry hopes the Panthers' play graduates to capital letter status. For now, though, the veteran coach would like to see his players back up all of their talk on the field. It's not that West Lowndes has been burning the phone lines with fabulous boasts. Berry is just eager to see his players prove to him their confidence -- and potential -- is real.
Leroy Gregg has coached high school football teams that have gone through a season without any injuries. Gregg hopes he has that same good fortune this season. With only 17 players on his roster, the third-year Oak Hill Academy coach knows the 2010 campaign will be challenging. After two solid showings in the preseason, Gregg and the Raiders will make their debut at 7 p.m. Friday when they play host to Heritage Academy.
In a unique twist Thursday night, Dwight Bowling will be a visitor in his hometown. Bowling faces the task of coaching a visiting team in his hometown of Smithville when he leads the Sulligent Blue Devils against the Smithville Seminoles. Bowling embarks on his fifth season as Sulligent's coach and will roam visitor's sideline at Smithville for the first time after being on the other side of the field for 28 years as the coach of the Seminoles.
STARKVILLE -- Julianne Jackson has had a lot of responsibility for the Starkville Academy softball team this season. She's handled the bulk of the pitching duties for the first time in her career and spent numerous hours trying to perfect a swing that hadn't previously utilized her power. Fifteen games into the season, she's the Lady Vols' No. 1 option in the circle and has become an effective pull-hitter and is currently the team's cleanup batter.
Ja'Bria Jones twisted her body to make a play. Playing two steps off the net, the middle blocker reached tentatively with her left hand in an effort to keep the ball alive. Jones did more than that. With a flick of her arm, the Columbus High School freshman sealed the deal with one final kill and helped her team defeat West Lowndes 3-2.
A year ago, South Lamar High School volleyball coach Karen Holsonback felt fortunate that her team didn't lose a match to rival Lamar County. Holsonback's team will attempt to continue its success against its rival Thursday when South Lamar hosts Lamar County in the first match of the season for both teams.
STARKVILLE -- With two-a-days in the books, the Mississippi State football team will continue to prepare for the start of classes and its season opener. And much like the rest of MSU's training camp, coach Dan Mullen was positive Monday in his assessment of the team's morning practice.
Anna McCrary thought her coach was crazy. Sure, she slugged a pitch to the bottom of the fence for an easy extra-base hit, but McCrary didn't think she was quick enough to make it home for an inside-the-park home run. Tabitha Beard thought differently.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State football fans will never know how good of a running back Montrell Conner could have been. At least in maroon and white. The redshirt freshman's sudden departure and transfer to Copiah-Lincoln Community College leaves a small, but fillable void in the backfield just three weeks from the Bulldogs' season opener. Citing having a two-year-old son in his hometown of Monroe, La., and feeling unhappy at MSU, Conner leaves Robert Elliott, Vick Ballard, LaDarius Perkins, Nick Griffin and Adrian Marcus to split reps.
FULTON -- Jon Williams willingness to fire himself shows he has bought into a fresh start at Itawamba Community College. Williams' decision to relieve himself of his duties as offensive line coach was difficult, but the new ICC football coach realized when he replaced Jeff Terrill things needed to change. So the 15-year veteran coach gave up his love and has taken on the responsibilities as the team's new coach of the running backs.
STARKVILLE -- The New Hope High School football team showed last season it can win close games. The Trojans won rain-slogged efforts at Saltillo and at Clarksdale and equally tight games against Hernando and Indianola Gentry en route to a second-place finish in Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A, Region 1. Things were even better in the playoffs.
STARKVILLE -- New year, same old story for the West Point High School football team. Led by a 77-yard rushing effort from senior quarterback Justin Cox, West Point grinded it out for 251 yards Saturday en route t a 35-0 victory against Itawamba Agricultural High at the Fall Football Jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium. The rushing total was even more impressive considering the Green Wave, the defending Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state champion, did in only two quarters of varsity action. Eight players had a chance to tote the ball, led by Cox and LaKenderic Thomas, who added 55 yards.
STARKVILLE -- Out of all the teams at the New Hope Fall jamboree, Starkville High School left the biggest stamp on Scott Field. Against three top offensive linemen recruits on a team that went 8-4 last season, the Yellow Jackets looked the like the polished, veteran team by beating Callaway 21-0 on Saturday. As for that vaunted Callaway offensive line? Just 31 rushing yards to show at the end of the two-quarter game.
STARKVILLE -- Montrell Conner, despite an Internet rumor Thursday, is still a member of the Mississippi State football team, coach Dan Mullen confirmed Thursday.
STARKVILLE -- Jamie Mitchell's Starkville High School football team has gotten mentally and physically tougher, but he will find out just how much progress his squad has made when it faces Jackson Callaway on Saturday at the New Hope High jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium.
STARKVILLE -- The Robert Gardner era at Starkville Academy kicked off Thursday with an 11-0 rout of Washington School. The first-year Lady Volunteers' coach watched his side score seven goals in the first half and hold Washington to just one shot on goal in its season opener at the Starkville Sportsplex.
MERIDIAN -- Taylor Baudoin had three goals and an assist Thursday to lead the Immanuel Christian girls soccer team to a 6-1 victory against Russell Christian in its season opener.