If a 10-team jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium is an ideal way to kick off the 2011 prep football season, there's no better way to open the regular season than with two state champions. At 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20, South Panola High School will travel to Clay County to take on West Point High.
The excitement is building in Noxubee County.
ABERDEEN -- The Aberdeen High School boys basketball team lost eight seniors from the 2009-10 squad that reached the third round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A playoffs.
STEENS -- While Wade Lee had enough height to soar over opponents, his back hasn't allowed him to do so for the past two years. So the senior forward at Immanuel Christian found other ways to excel, to overcome his back injury, and to earn The Dispatch Small Schools Player of the Year honors.
CRAWFORD -- If he's lucky, East Oktibbeha County High School girls basketball coach Randy Brooks will spend his winter cleaning up around the house and hunting rabbits.
MABEN -- Several months after ending a senior season at West Oktibbeha County High School that earned her recognition as The Dispatch Small Schools Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Shamia Robinson is starting over.
WEST POINT -- Marion Bratton knows the Oak Hill Academy fast-pitch team has plenty of things it needs to work on. But when it comes to season openers, the veteran coach liked enough of what he saw Friday afternoon not to be too upset.
PHEBA -- Don't count out the Hebron Christian fast-pitch softball team this season. Granted, the Lady Eagles lost seven seniors (five starters) en route to finishing as the runner-up in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class A North State tournament and third in the overall state tournament.
Joey Sanders has been working in the Greater Golden Triangle area for more than a year. On Monday, though, he officially will get approved to return home.
STARKVILLE -- After two straight playoff seasons, Starkville High School's volleyball team was primed to make a bigger splash in a new classification this season.
WEST POINT -- Three is the magic number this season for the Oak Hill Academy fast-pitch softball team.
MACON -- Sammy Lindsey hopes last year was more than a warmup for his Central Academy fast-pitch softball team.
Anna Kilarski and Kristen Phillips didn't want to waste an opportunity to have fun. Elizabeth Fields and Liz Byrne are going to make sure Kilarski, Phillips, and the rest of their pupils learn something, too.
Allie Lowe and Shiloh Ellis are convinced the Heritage Academy fast-pitch softball team just won't be a year older this season. A year ago, the Lady Patriots struggled through a season with an inexperienced and young lineup. But the players matured as the season progressed, and the team played its best game in a season-ending loss to Madison-Ridgeland Academy in the district tournament.
Murray Woody is excited to be back closer to home. After spending one year as basketball coach at Ethel High School, Woody is gearing up for a return to the sidelines as girls basketball coach at West Point High.
It isn't time for Leroy Gregg to retire. Two months ago, Gregg was preparing to take a trip to visit his daughter, Mary Frances, in Georgia when he discovered Smithville High School needed an assistant football coach.
Joey Sanders wasn't always a go-to performer. Growing up and maturing in the Noxubee County High School football program, Sanders learned to love the passing game. As one of quarterback Omarr Conner's favorite targets, Sanders blossomed into an All-State wide receiver as a senior and earned a scholarship to play football at Mississippi State.
In April, Blake Sharp went to Atlanta on a mission.
STARKVILLE -- Kayla Mosley has inherited an experienced Starkville Academy softball team that returns all but one starter. Normally, that scenario would allow a coach to make a smooth transition into her first year on the job, but finding a replacement for catcher Bailey Wofford will be Mosley's biggest undertaking this preseason.
STARKVILLE -- For each of the past two seasons, the Starkville Academy girls soccer team has been built around talented underclassmen. That trend will continue this season, as the team's hopes of making it out of the first round of the playoffs will rest on its underclassmen.
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