JACKSON — As a Junior, it was natural for Curtis Virges’ mother to pick out the nickname “Jun Jun” for her son. Opponents on the football field likely have a different set of names they call the West Point High School senior defensive lineman. “The Beast” is one that comes to mind, especially after Virges stood Monday at the front of the conference room in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and towered over teammate and senior running back Xavier Hogan. Virges usually has that kind of dominating presence on the football field, too.
JACKSON — Walter Denton hopes to experience a championship feeling this weekend. Last season, the Tylertown High School football coach left Mississippi Memorial Stadium wondering what could have been. Tylertown and Louisville played to a virtual statistical dead heat on paper in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A state title game. But Chris Wraggs’ 11-yard pass to Jordan Christion in the fourth quarter erased a one-point deficit and helped give Louisville a 26-21 victory.
Typically, Johnathan Brandon terrorizes defenses with his long-range marksmanship. A proficient spot-up shooter, the New Hope High School senior guard has a smooth stroke that remains in form well beyond the 3-point arc. But something felt wrong Tuesday night. Brandon sensed it in warmups when his shooting touch seemed cold. But scorers find other ways to beat you. Brandon shook off the effects a weight lifting session had on his shooting stroke and still scored a team-high 20 points to lead a balanced scoring effort in a 65-57 victory against Caledonia.
STARKVILLE — Heritage Academy basketball coach Bruce Allsup learns more and more about his boys team each game it plays. With four games in five days this week, he should find out quite a bit. The Patriots had played only three games prior to Tuesday night’s matchup at Starkville Academy. Heritage Academy made sure it began the week on a positive note by recording a 65-37 victory.
ABERDEEN— The third quarter proved to be the difference here Tuesday evening, as Aberdeen and Noxubee County high schools split a varsity basketball doubleheader. Leading 30-27 at halftime, the unbeaten Lady Bulldogs (5-0) outscored Noxubee County 25-15 in the third period en route to a 74-63 win against the Tigerettes (4-2). In the boys game, Aberdeen (1-4) had a surprising 35-26 halftime lead against Noxubee (5-2), but the Tigers lit the board for 38 third-quarter points in what turned out to be an 84-62 win for coach T.J. Billups.
STARKVILLE — One year ago, Mississippi State Athletic Director Greg Byrne was looking for a new football coach. After Sylvester Croom resigned following a 4-8 season and a 45-0 loss to the University of Mississippi, Byrne knew he had to find someone to help energize the program. He found Dan Mullen.
JACKSON — Xavier Hogan had doubts. After seeing his junior football season at West Point High School end in disappointment with a first-round loss in the Class 4A North Half State playoffs last year, Hogan wanted to make a stand in his final season. To do that, though, Hogan and his classmates knew the Green Wave needed to find a dependable quarterback.
STARKVILLE -- Carl Torbush has been on both sides of the Egg Bowl rivalry between Mississippi State and Ole Miss. As the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss from 1983-86, Torbush didn’t lose to MSU. Now as the defensive coordinator at MSU, Torbush turned the tables on Ole Miss on Saturday as the Bulldogs won the Egg Bowl 41-27 at Davis Wade Stadium. It was a satisfying way for Torbush and MSU (5-7, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) to end the season.
STARKVILLE — It remains to be seen whether Chris Relf is the quarterback of the future for Mississippi State. On Saturday, Relf was more than adequate for the present. The sophomore rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns and threw for two more scores to help MSU upset No. 20 University of Mississippi 41-27 before a crowd of 55,365 at Davis Wade Stadium. MSU (5-7, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) ended Dan Mullen’s first season as coach on a good note and avenged a 45-0 loss to the Rebels last season.
STARKVILLE — Gashed. Shredded. Trampled. Any of those words — and probably a few more would describe the feeling of the University of Mississippi football team defense Saturday after a 41-27 loss to Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl at David Wade Stadium. Led by sophomore quarterback Chris Relf and senior running back Anthony Dixon, the Bulldogs (5-7, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) rushed for 317 yards against the Rebels (8-4, 4-4), who entered the game as the SEC’s fourth-best team against the run (124.3 yards per game).
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen couldn’t leave Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday afternoon without getting a microphone to address the crowd one more time this season. Mullen wanted to express his appreciation to the fans for helping set attendance records and energizing the football team this season. Even though the Bulldogs were only 2-5 at home this season, they closed their home schedule with a 41-27 victory against No. 20 University of Mississippi.
STARKVILLE — Pat Patterson enjoyed the setting, but he would have preferred a different outcome. The former Noxubee County High School standout caught one pass for 17 yards Saturday in the No. 20 University of Mississippi’s 41-27 loss to Mississippi State at Davis Wade Stadium. The catch was the 12th of the season for the former Tiger, who said the Egg Bowl game was what he thought it would be.
The game plan is simple. On one side of the football, the West Point High School football team lines up, fires off the line of scrimmage, and dares you to stand in its way. Its style of play is its brand: West Point football. On the other side, the Green Wave delight in bringing pressure and flooding to the ball to stop any and all playmakers. The strategy is straight-forward — old school, if you will — but it has helped West Point control games and dominate opponents.
BOONEVILLE — The Booneville High School football team had all of the so-called advantages entering Friday’s Class 3A North State championship football game. The Blue Devils (13-0) were playing at home against a team with two losses and were coached by legendary Jim Drewry, a 50-year coaching veteran who is the winningest high school coach in Mississippi history with 346 career wins, three state titles (1990, 1999, and 2000) and a 7-0 record in North State title games at Booneville. Individually, the Blue Devils featured a quarterback who had thrown for more than 2,200 yards and 18 touchdowns and had completed 52 percent of his passes, a running back who had gained more than 1,200 yards and scored 22 touchdowns, and a pair of receivers who had combined for 1,940 receiving yards and 13 scores.
You misjudge Justin Cox at your own peril. If you don’t think the junior quarterback can beat a defender in a footrace, try him. If you doubt the first-year starter can make enough passes to wide receiver Michael Carr or tight end Michael Bush to keep defenses honest, pack the box and he will make you pay. Cox showcased both facets of his game Friday night on the biggest stage of the season to help the West Point High School football team reach an even bigger venue.
For the third consecutive week, an unbeaten team stands in the way of the Aberdeen High School football team’s quest for its first state championship. A week ago, unbeaten Charleston (13-0) was eliminated in a Class 3A quarterfinal contest at Aberdeen. On Friday, the Bulldogs handed home standing Booneville (13-0) its first blemish in the North Half finals. At 11 a.m. Saturday, coach Chris Duncan’s Bulldogs will go head-to-head with Tylertown (14-0), a 28-18 winner against Morton in Friday’s South State finals.
ASHLAND, Ala. –– The Lamar County High School football team came up short Friday in its quest to set a school record for wins in a season. Lamar County had its season come to an end with a 38-7 loss to Clay County in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A state playoffs. Lamar County (13-1) finished one win shy of setting a school record for most wins in a season that it set in 1984 and equaled in 1992 and this season.
Latavious Williams’ road to the NBA will begin tonight. The former Starkville High School standout will tip off his professional basketball career at 7 tonight when his NBA D-League Tulsa 66ers play host to the Utah Flash. Williams was the first of eight players Tulsa selected Nov. 5 in the D-League draft. He went through training camp and scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a preseason loss to the Iowa Energy and is ready to take his first step toward realizing a dream.
WEST POINT — On paper, Casey Welch knew the West Point High School football team had plenty of weapons to be successful. But the Green Wave running backs coach wasn’t sure how a mix of senior Xavier Hogan and juniors Lakenderic Thomas and Jacoby Lee was going to fare. An injury to Hogan early in the season forced the coaches to reshuffle the responsibilities for the running backs, but the Green Wave haven’t broken stride.
REFORM, Ala. — Big plays don’t bother Scott Marchant. Mistakes don’t faze him, either. While some coaches like to show their emotions on the sidelines, the Pickens County High School first-year football coach prefers to remain as impassive as possible on the sidelines. His goal is to set a focused example for his players so they don’t get too high or too low in a game and lose sight of what they have to do on the next play.
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