CARROLLTON, Ala -- The first one is always sweet. First-year head coach John Gartman earned his initial victory as head coach of the Pickens Academy football team with a 27-0 decision against South Choctaw on Friday night. The 31-year-old Gartman, who played at the University of Alabama, is in his first season at Pickens Academy after being the defensive coordinator at Morgan Academy for five years and Montgomery Macon-East the past three years. John Morgan Owens rushed for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Owens scored on runs of 30 and 10 yards in the second quarter and on a 34-yard run in the third quarter.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy soccer coach Robert Gardner believes he's found the perfect assistant coach for the Volunteers' upcoming season. Gardner is currently in the middle of the Lady Vols' soccer season, but wasted no time in hiring former Caledonia High School and East Mississippi Community College standout Louis Alexander to his coaching staff. Gardner, whose lauded the contributions of current Lady Volunteers assistant and former Mississippi State player Katelyn Graben, was keen to hire a boys' assistant who brought collegiate experience to the training ground.
CALHOUN CITY -- The Immanuel Christian football team scored its most points in a game in four years Friday night in a 51-20 victory against Calhoun Academy. It was Immanuel Christian's highest-scoring output since beating Brooklane Christian 54-38 on Sept. 22, 2006. Norris Harris rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns and Michael Tate rushed for 164 yards and three touchdowns to lead Immanuel Christian (1-3).
The Columbus High School football team scored 25 consecutive points in the fourth quarter Friday night to beat New Hope 39-22 at Trojan Field.
The goal of every successful high school football program is to go undefeated on the season. It's an achievement very few teams have pulled off. If a high school team goes undefeated, it is even rarer for that squad not to allow a point. It's the dream of every defensive coordinator and the daily double of prep football, so to speak. Tonight, just such an accomplishment will be celebrated, as members of the 1977 unbeaten, unscored upon Hamilton High School football team will be honored prior to the Hamilton-Hatley contest.
Glenn Akins and Stance Henderson haven't had to talk about last season to get motivated for tonight's game. Aside from a three-game losing streak to open the season, the 2009 campaign was marked by disappointment and an inability to live up to the potential the Patriots saw in their team. Three games into the 2010 season, Akins and Henderson promise they won't let the same thing happen in their senior season.
STARKVILLE -- When a team lives on the edge long enough, a fall is imminent. Starkville Academy's soccer team was reminded Thursday what can happen to a team that lives nearly 60 minutes in its own half. The Lady Vols clung to a 1-0 lead for nearly the entire second half against Pillow Academy before conceding an 78th minute equalizer and a pair of extra-time goals in a 3-1 loss.
Timing has worked out in West Point High School's football team the past two seasons. The Green Wave used an early bye week last season to help refocus after a surprising loss to Shannon. This year's bye week has been about recovery.
On his way to becoming a head coach, Josh Harper learned a lot about football from Rusty Funk. Harper will get a second chance at 7 p.m. Friday to show what he learned when his South Lamar Stallions play host to Funk's Marion County Red Raiders in an Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A, Region 5 game.
The lessons were there Tuesday night to be absorbed. The Columbus High School volleyball team only had to watch the tenacity at the net of Annalisha Harris and Mattie Scarbrough to see how they were supposed to do things. On the other hand, the Aberdeen High girls had something to learn from Columbus. Even though they won the first two games, the Lady Bulldogs played inconsistently against the steadier Lady Falcons. Columbus' even-keeled approach helped it win game three and recapture the momentum before Aberdeen regrouped for a 3-1 victory.
Von Smith didn't think he was ready. After all, he was only a freshman and he couldn't be trusted to run a varsity offense, right? It was natural last season for Smith, then only a freshman, to experience some doubts about his readiness to take over at quarterback for the West Oktibbeha High School football team.
Bobby Berry never doubted his players. Even though the West Lowndes High School football team trailed Caledonia by one point in the second quarter, Berry knew his team's big-play potential gave it the ability to turn the momentum in a hurry. Having Antonio Wilson and Brandon Clark as weapons makes things a little easier.
AMORY -- Sometimes a slap in the face is just what a team needs. The New Hope High School football team responded from the season-opening blow with a two hits to the chin strap Friday night that helped set the tone and get it back on track. Terrance Dentry rushed for 146 yards, including an 88-yard scoring run, four other players had touchdowns, and Terrence Payne added some defensive line play with attitude in New Hope's 37-6 victory against Amory at Longenecker Field.
STARKVILLE -- The Heritage Academy Patriots took control early on the road and never looked back Friday night en route to a 22-7 victory against Starkville Academy. "They (Starkville Academy) caused us a ton of problems with their defense," Heritage Academy second-year head coach Brad Butler said. "In the second half they never gave up and stuck with it, and their quarterback (Kyle Henson) was a great athlete for them tonight."
ABERDEEN -- Shock was the operative word Friday following the Aberdeen High School football team's 34-0 victory against the previously undefeated Pontotoc Warriors. "I'm shocked by the outcome," Pontotoc High veteran head coach Charlie Dampeer said. "Nobody has challenged us at the line of scrimmage like Aberdeen did, and I don't remember getting whipped this bad in a long, long time.
CRAWFORD -- With the exception of a spirited third-quarter push from the home team, Friday's West Oktibbeha-East Oktibbeha rivalry game was all Timberwolves. West Oktibbeha's receiving corps quickly introduced itself to East Oktibbeha's secondary on the third play of the team's first drive with an 80-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Von Smith to junior receiver Dwight Quinn. The relationship proved fruitful, as Smith racked up 370 yards and four touchdowns to help West Oktibbeha earn a 29-20 victory.
REFORM, Ala. -- Sometimes football games are over long before the final horn sounds. Seventh-ranked Pickens County scored 34 points in the first quarter Friday night en route to a 48-7 victory against Shades Mountain Christian. The Tornadoes (2-0) ran only 22 offensive plays in the first half to amass their point total. Pickens County finished with 353 yards offense, including 261 rushing yards.
MILLBROOK, Ala. -- Landon Ellis scored all four of his team's touchdowns Friday night to lead the Victory Christian football team past New Life Christian 27-6. Ellis scored on a 10-yard run and caught touchdown passes of 81 and 43 yards from Marcus Sims in the first quarter. He scored on a 23-yard run in the second quarter. Ellis rushed for 112 yards on 11 carries and caught three passes for 148 yards.
AMORY -- Terrance Dentry rushed for 146 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown run in the second half, Friday night to lead the New Hope High School football team to a 37-6 victory against Amory at Longenecker Field.
CALEDONIA -- Ball control versus big plays is a simplistic way to promote tonight's Lowndes County matchup between Caledonia and West Lowndes. A better way to examine the matchup at 7:30 tonight at West Lowndes featuring the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A Confederates (0-2) and the Class 2A Panthers (1-1) would be to say that both teams are still working to establish their identities.