Coming out of high school, Jay Johnson was good enough in the eyes of Lou Holtz to play football at Notre Dame. Johnson signed with Notre Dame after playing on back-to-back undefeated state championship teams at Starkville High School, and went on to letter as a receiver from 1997-2000. Nine years after donning the gold helmet of the Irish, Johnson again is good enough in the eyes of Holtz to represent Notre Dame on the football field.
Darryl Wilson isnít as quick and canít jump as high as he did 13 years ago. But the stroke that made him a three-time All-Southeastern Conference shooting guard at Mississippi State is still there. And, like most shooters, when you challenge him that stroke becomes red hot. Wilson, 35, is rekindling his scoring touch with the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers in the World Basketball Exposure League.
STARKVILLE ó†The Pickens Academy Dizzy Dean baseball team, of Carrollton, Ala., looks at any opportunity to play this summer as a learning experience. The chance to come to Mississippi and play a Class 5A program like Starkville High School is an added bonus. Pickens Academy bounced back from a 5-3 opening-game loss to beat Starkville 10-3 in a six-inning second game to gain a doubleheader split.
Baseball players never stop growing. For Ben Fleming, Brent Hallmark, and Garrett Harris, there is no better place to learn more about the game they love than close to home. The three former New Hope High School standouts are teammates on the Golden Triangle Jets in the Cotton States Baseball North Division. The former Trojans have helped the Jets get off to a 2-3 start in the inaugural season for the four-team wood bat league.
STARKVILLE ó†Chase Taylor knows he can be better. If the past two months are any indication, Taylor could start hitting the scores heís looking for any time now. On May 2, the New Hope High School golfer won the 14- to 15-year-old group at the Optimist Club tournament at the Mississippi State Golf Course. The victory earned him a chance to play today and Tuesday in the district tournament in Meridian. The winner will go to West Palm Beach, Fla., to play in the International tournament in July
STARKVILLE ó†Starkville sprinter Tavaris Tate is used to living in the fast lane. On the track, it takes Tate seconds to run the 400 meters or his leg of the 4x400 relay. Off the track, Tateís preparation and travel schedule keeps him on the go. Since helping Starkville High School to its second consecutive state championship, Tate has participated in the Atlanta-DeKalb International Prep Classic in Atlanta, Ga., and the Sports Authority Great Southwest Classic at Albuquerque, N.M.
STARKVILLE ó†The Hamilton High School Dizzy Dean baseball team used an ďEarnestĒ effort Thursday to get a victory at Starkville Academy. Dylan Earnest had seven strikeouts and two hits and Ethan Earnest added two hits to help the Lions defeat the Volunteers 10-5. The umpires stopped the second game of the doubleheader in the third inning when a bank of outfield lights wouldnít come on. Baseball is a family affair at Hamilton with brothers Ethan and Austin Earnest and cousin Dylan Earnest.
Mark Hysaw knows what the older player in the Columbus High School baseball program can do. Hysaw has coached rising seniors Avery Ford, Tyji Hawkins, and Josh Tentoni as they have moved through their middle school years into the twilight of their high school careers. Thatís why Hysaw is excited to see what those players can do in their final go-around with the Falcons. Ford and his teammates continued their strong showing Thursday night with 16-6 and 14-4 five-inning victories against Starkville in Dizzy Dean action at Sammy Fletcher Field in Columbus.
STARKVILLE ó Willie Gillespie wants to educate young people of the community about the sport of football. With the help of some of his friends, Gillespie is set to do that with Camp Complete on June 19-20 at Starkville High School.
I didnít know Don Foster well. There were plenty of times in my first year as sports editor I saw Don at high school or college events. We never did get too chatty with each other, but we did say hello and then went about our jobs in our own ways. But now that Foster, who died Monday at his home in West Point, is gone, I will remember one event we covered more than any other.
STARKVILLE ó†The love of Starkville led Matthew Rye through an open door at the Starkville Parks and Recreation department in 2005. After four years with the department, Rye gets the opportunity to lead. Rye assumed the position as parks and recreation director June 1 after Clark Roman retired.
Rachel Dees, Cheng Ye, and Rick Deaton combined to win 21 first places May 23-24 to lead the Mississippi Shockwave Aquatics team to the overall title at the Tunica Summer Invitational in Tunica. Dees, who competed in the girls 13- to 14-year-old age group, won eight events, while Ye won seven events in the boys 11-12 division and Deaton took six first in the boys 13-14 bracket.
Jake Reeves, Bobby Merryman, and Sarah Pevey canít wait until July 10. The confidence the three athletes gained Friday at the Chaos in Columbus Mixed Martial Arts event at the Trotter Convention Center should serve each competitor well next month when they take the next steps in their amateur careers. Fighting for Relentless MMA, Reeves (2-0) earned a first-round submission victory against Lee Franklin, of Jackson. He used a rear-naked choke hold to end the fight in 58 seconds.
STARKVILLE -- Ben Thebaud, of the Starkville Academy Dizzy Dean baseball team, uses his speed and athletic ability to his advantage. As a wide receiver and defensive back in football at Starkville Academy, Thebaud has been known to make something positive happen for the Volunteers. It was his play on the baseball field that helped Starkville Academy come from behind and defeat Starkville High School 13-10 in a four-inning second game of a Dizzy Dean High School doubleheader Monday night. The Volunteers earned a sweep by also beating the Yellow Jackets 10-4 in the opener.
Jeff Hunter doesnít aspire to be a professional baseball coach. The former New Hope High School and Mississippi State pitcher also is hesitant to become a high school baseball coach. But Hunterís love for the game couldnít keep him away from the Cotton States Baseball League. On Tuesday, Hunter will take the field as coach for the Golden Triangle Jets when the team plays its first two games of the Cotton States Baseball League - North Divisionís inaugural season.
Players arenít the only ones who are tested in the spring and summer months. While parents have to shuttle their children to and from games, coaches are the ones who are on site hours before games preparing the field and hours after games cleaning up and getting things ready for the next day. Columbus High School baseball coach Jeff Cook and New Hope High assistant baseball coach Chris Ball are two area coaches who will play a variety of roles in the next few months on the diamond.
STARKVILLE ó†Starkville High Schoolís summer team knew it was in trouble in the second game of a Dizzy Dean doubleheader Thursday when New Hope pitcher Jake Upton struck out four in the first inning. Upton accomplished the feat when he threw a wild pitch on the third strikeout and then retired Blake Dawkins swinging to end the frame. The Yellow Jackets could never adjust to Uptonís knuckleball and only got one hit in three innings.
The Columbus High School baseball teamís 2010 team started Thursday night. Josh Tentoni, Tyji Hawkins, and the rest of the Falcons intend to make that season a success. Tentoni had four hits and Hawkins added two and a strong pitching performance to help Columbus beat East Webster 4-3 and 11-3 in the Dizzy Dean opener for both teams at Sammy Fletcher Field. Nick Durrah also had three hits, including the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the seventh to help Columbus turn the page.
The time is right for Brian Alexander. The 17-year coaching veteran didnít know how Russell Brooks found his name, but he didnít dismiss the opportunity that will keep him on the court through the summer. Alexander, a former assistant boys basketball coach for Sammy Smith at Columbus High, is the head coach of the World Basketball Association Exposure Leagueís Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers.
Chad Davis is excited about Columbus. As sales and marketing director for Ring Media Group, itís Davisí job to find new markets to showcase mixed martial arts, one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Davis believes he has found one in The Friendly City ó and at just the right time.
1. MSU elated over fifth seed in first NCAA berth since 2009 COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Rebels to face Oklahoma in 8-9 matchup in South COLLEGE SPORTS