Columbus High School junior defensive lineman Ian Williams was thankful to be in the right place at the right time. Even though it took a while to determine who blocked the extra point that enabled Columbus beat Aberdeen 27-26 in double overtime Friday night, Williams was glad he could be a difference maker.
The soggy conditions Friday night couldn’t stop Heritage Academy’s Will West from discovering where his passion on the football field lies. Heritage Academy coach Brad Butler said West has played nearly every position but has finally found his role as a senior. “I asked him earlier in the fall, ‘Do you like being a wide receiver or do you feel like a tight end?’ ” Butler said. “(Will) said, ‘Well, I feel weird about it, but coach, I like being a wide receiver.’ ”
MACON — The Noxubee County High School football team picked up where it left off last season. The Tigers pitched seven shutouts in 2008 en route to the Class 4A State championship. On Friday night, the Tigers notched their first shutout of 2009 with a 30-0 victory against Starkville in the season opener for both teams.
SHANNON — Someone had to make one more play. Michael Carr appeared to have what the West Point High School football team needed. But Keon McGaughy snatched what Carr couldn’t hold to give Shannon High exactly what it wanted. McGaughy caught a ball that tipped off Carr’s hands for a 29-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds remaining to lift Shannon to a 27-20 victory in the season opener for both teams.
MABEN — The West Lowndes High School football team began its season Friday with a 30-6 road victory against West Oktibbeha in a game that involved plenty of hard hits.
Intermittent downpours of rain throughout the day failed to dampen anticipation for Victory Christian School’s Friday night opening home football game against Bessemer’s Flint Hill Christian School. Enjoying an 11-game winning streak, including two 2008 playoff wins, the Eagles’ big-play offense dominated en route to a 57-16 Christian Football Association (eight-man) division victory in the season opener for both teams.
STARKVILLE — Ackerman High School senior running back Shawn Stricklin delivered a lights-out performance in more ways than one Friday night in the season opener against Starkville Academy. Stricklin rushed for a career-high four touchdowns and 124 yards to lead the Indians to a 55-2 victory.
STEENS — Tyler Edwards had 107 yards rushing and Cody Taylor added 91 Friday night to lead the Hatley High School football team to a 60-0 victory against Immanuel in the season opener for both teams.
LOUISVILLE — It wasn’t quite the way Louisville High School junior running back Blake Cunningham envisioned starting the 2009 football season. Cunningham, who is being counted on to shoulder a lot of the ball-toting load vacated by the departure of Dandy Dozen Mississippi State signee Dennis Thames, fumbled the ball away on Louisville’s first play of the game.
AMORY — All things being equal, execution, effort, and experience more times than not will decide the outcome of a football game. That was the case here Friday night, as the Nettleton Tigers capitalized on a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers to grab a 19-15 non-division victory against the Amory Panthers.
NEWNAN, Ga. –– The Pickens Academy Pirates scored their most points in a game in three seasons to make Sam Pearson a winner in his debut Friday as the team’s coach. Pickens Academy turned a defensive first half into a rout, defeating the Heritage School 56-36.
CALEDONIA — Shaina Cruse feels like she is part of history. With each practice and match she plays, the senior setter grows a little more comfortable with her Caledonia High School volleyball teammates. Cruse, who also plays goalkeeper on the school’s girls soccer team, has been playing volleyball for only two years, but she dives on the floor to keep loose balls alive with the same hustle she throws her body at soccer balls. To watch Cruse play volleyball, you wouldn’t know she is a newcomer to the sport.
STARKVILLE — It wasn’t really all about winning Saturday at the Starkville Sportsplex softball fields. Although scores were kept, the main purpose of the sixth-annual College Exposure Tournament was to showcase the talent of the 14 Mississippi Association of Independent School teams participating. The tournament was directed by the Delta State softball team, and it gave coach Kasey Charles and her staff a front-row seat to watch potential recruits.
So much for scheduling a cream puff in your season opener. Columbus High School’s Bubba Davis, West Point High’s Chris Chambless, and Noxubee County’s M.C. Miller all have high hopes for their football teams this season. They agree there is no better way to put those hopes to the test than to schedule a difficult opponent in the first game of the season. Each coach will get to do that tonight when Columbus plays host to Aberdeen, West Point travels to Shannon, and Noxubee County plays host to Starkville.
High school football programs are looking for ways to deal with the struggling economy. So when teams can schedule non-conference games close to home that’s what they’re going to do. That’s the main reason Immanuel Christian of Columbus will play host to Hatley High School, while Ackerman High School will travel to Starkville Academy.
A capsule preview look at the Oak Hill Acadademy-Heritage Academy, West Lowndes-West Oktibbeha, and Hatley-Immanuel games.
One coaches at a private school, and the other coaches at a public school. One coaches at an academy that has a student body that is nearly all white, while the other works at a predominately black school. But when it comes to coaching high school football, the coaches face similar situations.
The Nettleton High School and the Amory High football teams hope to use a rivalry game to start the season with a victory. Nettleton coach Jack Clark and Amory coach Pat Byrd believe the rivalry will be good for their boys. “(The rivalry) has a positive impact for our kids. We’ve played each other 15 times in the last 20 years,” Clark said. “They have probably won 13 of those games, but even though it is one-sided it is always a competitive game.”
STEENS — Just about everything will be new for the Immanuel Christian girls soccer program in 2009. The hope for this season is that all of the new players who have joined the program will help the Lady Rams make a return trip to the playoffs. Fifth-year coach Ray Campbell and the Lady Rams will kick off the season at 4 p.m. today when they play host to Indianola.
Consider the apology accepted. Krisi Boren is only in her second year as girls soccer coach at Heritage Academy, but she has been around soccer and student-athletes long enough to have seen plenty of things. Boren faced something after her team’s season-opening victory against Marshall Academy she didn’t expect. After the game, freshman forward Tori Fields apologized to Boren for not giving her best effort. The apology was unsolicited and caught Boren off guard.
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