Two Lamar County and two Pickens County football teams will have a chance Friday night to solidify their positions for a state playoff berth. Lamar County, Sulligent, Pickens County, and Aliceville can improve to 3-0 in region play with victories.
When the Pickens Academy football team started the season with two losses, coach John Gartman still believed he had a good team.
STEENS -- Meghan Cooper has a simple philosophy that serves her well on the soccer field: Always go hard. It's a message Ray Campbell has instilled in Cooper and the rest of the players on the Immanuel Christian girls soccer team. Add in some deft passing skills and combination play and a stingy defense and it's easy to see why the Lady Rams are having a playoff season.
DeKALB -- Cathryn Moore and Magen Tapley had run-scoring hits in the top of the seventh inning Tuesday, and Chloe Tapley made it stand up to lead the Hebron Christian fast-pitch softball team to a 2-1 victory against Kemper Academy. The victory helped the Lady Eagles (18-9, 7-0 district) clinch the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class A, District 3 title for the second time in three years.
The Starkville High School volleyball team beat Columbus High 3-0 and cruised to a quick win in its Legue 3, Region 2 opener Tuesday. The set scores were 25-16, 25-3, 25-13. Starkville (19-7, 1-0 region) beat Columbus ( 3-9, 0-2), setting up a Thursday home match with Tupelo for the region lead. Starkville junior setter Wheeler Richardson recorded 20 assists, six aces, six digs and two kills to lead the Lady Jackets, whose only points conceded in the second set came from errors.
STARKVILLE -- Quarterbacks need to be poised in clutch situations. Good things tend to happen when a quarterback can hold his wits and lead his teammates. Jaquez Johnson and Cedrick Jackson proved that is true Friday night.
Tony Stanford isn't sure if one week will be enough. The Columbus High School football coach will get a chance to see just how much a week off has helped his team when it takes on New Hope at 7:30 tonight. Stanford said Columbus (1-1), which had an off week last week, will be without sophomore quarterback Cedric Jackson and junior running back Damian Baker for at least another week. He said the Falcons also will be without sophomore running back/defensive back Quan Latham, sophomore linebacker Gemriah Williams, and senior defensive lineman/tight end Ian Williams. The players are out with an assortment of ankle or foot injuries.
There was no doubt in Randy Brown's mind. Faced with the prospect of taking on a New Hope High School goal-line package on fourth-and-1 at his team's 20, Brown knew Columbus High would make a stand. There was no way Brown could see what would transpire after that stop.
The Starkville High School Yellowjackets finished 4-9 last year and began this season with consecutive losses. The West Point High School Green Wave claimed the 5A state title last year, and was riding a 16-game win streak. There wasn't much reason to expect an upset when the two teams met Friday night in West Point. But that's exactly what happened.
HAMILTON -- Lions and Tigers sometimes combine for fierce and high-scoring results. Cody Taylor and Tyler Edwards helped make sure the Tigers had a little more firepower. Edwards rushed for 170 yards and Taylor added 165 more to lead the Hatley High School football team to a 48-35 victory against Hamilton on Friday night.
ABERDEEN -- Junior quarterback Forest Williams was a virtual one-man show early on, but the size and athleticism of the Aberdeen High School football team eventually wore Amory down in a 60-12 victory in Monroe County's annual battle for the A-Team trophy. First-year Amory High coach Trent Hammond surprised Aberdeen early, abandoning his running game in favor of a short-passing attack. Williams responded by accounting for the Panthers' first 160 yards of offense on an 11-for-17 throwing effort for 115 yards. He also rushed for 45 yards on 10 carries in less than two quarters.
WEST POINT -- The West Point High School football team built a 20-0 lead and held Starkville High to 33 yards and three first downs in the first half Friday night. But the Green Wave committed three turnovers and numerous penalties that allowed the Yellow Jackets to pick up momentum in the second half. The mistakes provided all the openings Starkville needed to rally for a 21-20 victory to give first-year coach Jamie Mitchell a signature win and the program its first victory in the rivalry in four years.
MACON -- The Noxubee County High School football team made a game-lasting statement against Greenville Weston on its first four plays Friday night en route to a 38-6 win. Of the Tigers' first four plays, three came in different phases and provided the injury-stricken team instant momentum. Noxubee County quarterback Deangelo Ballard connected with Terrence Barron on a 65-yard touchdown pass for the opening score. Rodrigues Brown then delivered a vicious hit and forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. The Tigers capitalized on the recovered fumble on Greenville Weston's first offensive possession, which led to a 13-0 Noxubee County lead just two minutes into the game.
The toughness Brad Butler has been looking for in the Heritage Academy football team surfaced in a big way Friday night. Led by a strong defensive effort and a key fourth-down conversion in the fourth quarter, quarterback Brandon Bell scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard plunge to help lift Heritage Academy to a 22-14 victory against the Lamar School.
McCOMB -- Brandon Austin and Joseph Clark led a running attack that grounded out 368 yards and had five touchdowns Friday night to push Parklane Academy to a 38-20 victory against Starkville Academy. Austin rushed for 260 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while Clark rushed for 98 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. Austin scored the first touchdown on a 62-yard run. Clark added scoring runs of 15 and 5 yards to help Parklane take an 18-0 lead in the second quarter.
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.
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