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.
STARKVILLE — Registration for the Starkville Soccer Association season has just concluded and president Richard Stubbs said participants and sponsorships are down this year. Stubbs believes parents are feeling the pain of a struggling economy despite possible signs of improvement. He said cutting back on physical fitness, especially with children, is the wrong thing to do.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama volleyball team hopes focusing on smaller goals and taking them slower helps it accomplish a larger goal this season. A strong spring season and a competitive preseason has the Lady Crimson Tide ready to start the season against Saint Louis at 7 p.m. Friday in the SLU Active Ankle Challenge in St. Louis. “I think every team know what it wants to do, and I think when you set smaller goals and you reach them you get more encouragement and more affirmation,” senior right-side hitter Liz Salstrand said.
A program develops constants in winning 11 state titles. Defense has been one of the benchmarks for the New Hope High School slow-pitch softball team. But as stingy as the Lady Trojans have been defensively, their hitting has adapted to the strengths of the players from title to title. Some years New Hope has relied on its power hitters to fuel the offense. In other seasons — like in 2008 — it has blended line drive hitters with speed to deliver a consistent attack.
Josh Harper has a lot on his mind. The South Lamar High School football coach is about to embark on his first season as a head coach at his alma mater, and he’s faced with the task of preparing for the team’s archrival his first game. The Harper era at South Lamar begins at 7 p.m. Friday when the Stallions kick off their season at Lamar County in Vernon, Ala.
SCOOBA –– East Mississippi Community College football coach Buddy Stephens describes the center position as the “traffic cop” of the offensive line. The center is crucial in alerting guards and tackles to the location of an opponent’s linebackers. Centers also make calls for the offensive line that allow adjustments for the correct stance before the football is snapped.
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