STARKVILLE -- Don't let the speed fool you, Justin Gordon is a complete soccer player. The Starkville High School sophomore forward/midfielder understands, though, that when you have blazing speed it often leaves an impression with opponents that you are a one-dimensional player.
CLINTON -- Justin Gordon had been just out of reach all evening. Whether it was Taylor Wise or Dylan Howard or Kase Kingery, no one could put just the right touch on a service to get the speedy Gordon behind the defense. All the Starkville High School boys soccer team needed was a kiss from Price Day to send it on its way to history.
Starkville High looks for a piece of history today when the Yellow Jackets face off with Pascagoula for the Class 5A high school soccer state championship. Match time is 3:30 p.m. at Clinton High School.
CALEDONIA -- Consistency was an elusive ingredient Thursday night. For large stretches of his team's game against New Hope High School, Caledonia High boys basketball coach Josh Scott saw a team that shared the basketball, took good shots, and did a lot of things it takes to win games. Take away the final four minutes of the second quarter and the Confederates might have accomplished that goal.
STARKVILLE -- Growing up, Kase Kingery never saw playing with a soccer ball as "work." Like a lot of kids who had discovered a sport that fit them, Kingery spent as many hours as he could with a soccer ball honing his skills. The drills he did in and around Starkville often included dribbling exercises and shooting tests with his right and left foot. He would try to hit the crossbar again and again, or he would use a T-shirt as a target and place it on the crossbar.
Tony Stanford and his coaches have reason to be proud. In 2008, Stanford came to Columbus High School with coach Bubba Davis with a goal to transform the school's football program. Stanford continued that mission after taking over for Davis as head coach prior to the 2010 season. Like Davis, his formula included a core principle: Hard work in the weight room pays dividends. The eight Columbus High School football players who signed scholarships to play football in college are proof the Falcons are moving in the right direction.
New Hope High School football coach Michael Bradley experienced another first in his coaching career Wednesday morning. "Darius, you are the first player I have ever had sign wearing a bow tie," Bradley said. "This is a big moment for me." Wednesday also was a big moment for the Trojans, as Darius Petty, Joseph Reeves, and Daniel Gregory signed scholarships to play football at East Central Community College in Decatur.
STARKVILLE -- Erik Rogers and Cory Cannon spent the past two seasons playing beside one another on the offensive and defensive lines for the Starkville High School football team. On Wednesday, they secured opportunities in college to see how much they can maximize their talents on one side of the ball.
Brandon Bell and Blake Sharp did nearly everything on the football field in their high school careers. The next challenge for the Heritage Academy standouts will be to earn playing time on one of the nation's best teams. Bell and Sharp took the first step in that journey Wednesday morning when they signed scholarships to play football for the national champion East Mississippi Community College football team.
WEST POINT -- Carson Miller and Brandon Edwards have dreams of playing on a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. After nearly getting offers to play at that level, the West Point High School standouts are more than ready to make a name for themselves in the fertile Mississippi junior college ranks. Miller, a lineman, signed with Pearl River Community College Wednesday, while Edwards signed with reigning Mississippi Junior College Athletic Association champion and national champion East Mississippi C.C.
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter couldn't help but think back Wednesday about how far some of his players have come. National Signing Day typically is a time for coaches, parents, and players to reflect on an athletic journey that includes plenty of ups and downs and lessons learned. Six Noxubee County High School football players shared those memories with Shorter, members of the team's coaching staff, and family members Wednesday as they announced their plans to play the sport in college.
STARKVILLE -- While the Starkville High School boys soccer team has some unfinished business for the 2011-12 season, two Yellow Jackets nailed down their future plans Wednesday afternoon. Goalkeeper Addison Watson and defender Austin Wileman each signed scholarships to play soccer on the next level. Watson signed with Missouri State University, a Division I school that is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, while Wileman signed with Itawamba Community College.
New Hope High School girls soccer coach Mary Nagy always knew Sarah Hern would be ready to answer the call when she needed leadership. "Sarah was always our leader," Nagy said. "The players voted her as a captain in 10th grade. The leadership continued from there. The other players looked up to her. Her maturity was great both on and off the field. She is leaving behind a legacy, and has done a great job of preparing the next group of leaders."
CALEDONIA -- On the biggest day of his athletic career thus far, Caledonia High School's Cole Carter shared a lot of laughs and hugged a lot of people.
STARKVILLE -- "One more win." As the wild postgame celebration ensued and Starkville High School boys soccer coach Brian Bennett received a Gatorade bath, he reminded his Yellow Jackets they had one more victory to get. Starkville moved one step of capturing the school's first state title in soccer after defeating Hernando 3-1 Tuesday in the Class 5A North State Class championship before a boisterous crowd at Yellow Jacket Stadium.
Consider Tuesday night a dress rehearsal. The performances that count will come Tuesday night. The New Hope High School basketball teams took positive steps toward third meetings against West Point with two victories in the Class 5A, Region 2, District 1 regular-season finale in Columbus.
STARKVILLE -- There is good news for the soccer fan who hasn't seen the Starkville Academy boys soccer team play: The Volunteers will close the regular season with six matches in eight days. The marathon sprint opened Tuesday afternoon with a 1-0 win against archrival Heritage Academy at the Starkville Sportsplex.
Senior Night was sweet for the Columbus High School basketball teams as they earned two victories Tuesday night. The girls dominated West Oktibbeha County High 71-18, while the boys edged the Timberwolves 49-43.
STARKVILLE -- Senior Night at Starkville High School on Tuesday night stirred a lot of emotions boys basketball coach Greg Carter knew his team would need to overcome. After a slow start, Starkville did just that in a 76-44 victory against Neshoba Central.
STARKVILLE -- Only one gift Tuesday night seemed appropriate for Starkville Academy girls basketball Glenn Schmidt to give her five seniors: a hug. After a round of a applause from the capacity crowd at Starkville Academy's gym, each of the seniors on the team taken out of the team's 67-32 victory against Heritage Academy.
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