CALEDONIA -- A little emotion can go a long way. Inserted at the proper time in a match, that energy can help make for a very long evening or it can erase any surge of momentum. The Starkville High School volleyball team picked the right time Tuesday night to deliver a shock to the system. Sparked by an impromptu players-only scream-fest in front of coach Lauren Love, the Yellow Jackets rallied to score the final five points in game four to clinch the game and the match against Caledonia, 3-1. Game scores were 25-19, 25-12, 18-25, 25-20.
This time it counts. After playing a jamboree like a regular season game this past Thursday, the Sulligent Blue Devils tee it up for good this Thursday. Sulligent kicks off its regular season at home against the Hamilton Aggies after beating the Smithville Seminoles 27-18 in a jamboree. Sulligent (of Alabama) had to play the jamboree like a regular season game because Smithville (of Mississippi) scheduled it as its season opener. Alabama schools don't begin their season until this week whereas Mississippi schools started this past week.
STARKVILLE -- The first words Jessica Dickens delivered in her post-game interview were said with a sense of relief. "How about that hitting from Bailey Wofford?" the Starkville Academy head coach asked. Indeed, her most experienced player enjoyed an all-star caliber day against opening-day spoiler Hebron Christian, putting the team a game above .500 following two wins on the bounce.
MACON -- Cole Newman knows what it takes to be "The Man." A year ago, he watched teammates Hunter Campbell and Trevor Eaves do their best to lead the Central Academy football team's rushing attack. But when Campbell went down with a season-ending injury, Eaves assumed a bigger role and Newman earned an opportunity to contribute.
ABERDEEN -- In the opener of the 2009 season it took two overtimes to decide the outcome of Columbus and Aberdeen This year's rematch also went down as an instant classic as the Falcons' defensive heroics were again enough to hold off the Bulldogs 8-6 and give first-year head coach Tony Stanford the victory in his debut. "It's so important for our program," Stanford said. "We've struggled over the last couple of years winning some so we need to get as much confidence as we can. Our kids don't have a lot (of confidence) but wins is the only way you can get it and we'll take them any way we can get them. It was sweet."
WEST POINT -- Sophomore Miller Puckett took the opening kickoff return 82 yards untouched to help Heritage Academy lead from the start Friday night en route to a 28-14 victory against Oak Hill Academy in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools season opener for both teams. "It is always good to win that first one," Heritage Academy second-year coach Brad Butler said. "Miller Puckett played well. We have to make sure we find ways to get the ball in his hands more. "We had too many penalties, but we overcame those with some big plays, but we still have to get mentally tougher so we can overcome these penalties."
It takes a lot to be a Timberwolf. With depleted numbers in recent years, the West Oktibbeha High School football team has learned how not to make excuses. Instead, the Timberwolves rely on faith, family, and heart to get them through difficult situations. The belief the Timberwolves have in themselves and in their teammates came through in shining fashion Friday night.
HAMILTON -- The Hamilton High School football team came on like gangbusters in the second half Friday night and pulled away to rout Weir 42-0 in the season opener for both teams. The game was scoreless after the opening quarter and Hamilton led 7-0 at halftime before erupting for three touchdowns in the third quarter and two touchdowns and a field goal in the fourth quarter. It was Hamilton's highest-scoring game since beating Alcorn Central 48-14 on Sept. 29, 2006, as the Lions cruised past Weir, which has won six Class A state championships.
STARKVILLE -- The ability to finish a game is a trait learned through time. On Friday, the Starkville High School football team gave up two scores to Noxubee County in the final minute of each half in a disappointing 14-7 loss to open the 2010 season. And when the Jackets had their chance late in the fourth quarter, their efforts turned south with back-to-back busted plays that squandered a first down at the Noxubee County 26.
WEST POINT -- The Mississippi High School Activities Association defending Class 5A state champions opened defense of their crown in style Friday night. Senior running back Jacoby Lee and senior quarterback Justin Cox scored the first two touchdowns and helped lead West Point to a 39-14 victory against Shannon in the season opener for both teams. Last year, Shannon beat West Point 27-20 in the first game of the season. The Green Wave then rolled off 14 consecutive victories en route to the school's six state championship.
After a one-year hiatus, the Columbus-New Hope High School football rivalry looks like it is set for a return -- next month. If everything falls into place Monday, plan to be at New Hope High School's Trojan Field at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10 to watch the Falcons and Trojans renew their rivalry. Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips said Saturday that while details remain to be finalized he said when asked about the game: "I think it is going to happen."
Columbus, Heritage Academy, West Point, Noxubee County, and West Oktibbeha were among the local winners Friday night as the 2010 prep football season kicked off in earnest.
The clarity might be the first thing you notice. Even though you're several hundred feet away from the practice field, the words reverberate sharply and cause you to pick up your pace. As you turn the corner, the words slam into you, prompting you to break into a sprint. You hustle into place and hope today is a good day and that he doesn't single you out because, truth be told, he is loud and the words can get caught up in the helmet and stay with you for a while.
STARKVILLE -- Jamie Mitchell isn't the only coach who has noticed a difference in the Starkville Yellow Jackets. Tyrone Shorter, the coach of the Jackets' opponent, Noxubee County, tonight, has had plenty of opportunities to see Mitchell's players grow from shell-shocked athletes to jamboree door-busters. From the Yellow Jackets' spring game through summer 7-on-7 games hosted by Starkville, Shorter has seen similarities between the Yellow Jackets and the teams Mitchell coached at Itawamba Agricultural High.
WEST POINT -- The names change most every year. The coaches tinker and tweak positions and schemes. But the more changes that appear to hit the West Point High School football program, the more it keeps producing teams that contend for state championships. The 2010 edition doesn't figure to be any different.
One team is building toward a repeat. The other is building toward respectability. Even though it is only August, the New Hope and Columbus high school slow-pitch softball teams showed Thursday they have plenty to look forward to this season. D.J. Sanders had four hits, including three doubles, to lead a 17-hit attack in New Hope's 13-5 victory at Lady Trojan Field.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School's cross country team has its sights set on crashing Class 6A's top four with a revamped squad of returnees and transfer talent. The Yellow Jackets had two runners finish in the top 50 at last season's 6A state meet, but with the additions of Starkville Academy transfer Joseph MacGown and transfer Kamau Bostic from Virginia, the team believes it's closer to the top of the mountain. MacGown was runner up at the 2009 Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA state meet.
ACKERMAN -- The 2010 high school football season in the state of Mississippi nearly opened with a shocker. But Dakota Brasher helped script the ending many expected -- albeit it was much more difficult than expected. Brasher's 6-yard touchdown run and K.J. Woods' conversion run in overtime helped Ackerman High School rally for an 8-6 victory against Starkville Academy on Thursday night.
STARKVILLE -- The genesis of Starkville Academy's 2009 football misery, preparing for Ackerman High doesn't feel like déjà vu one year later. It's an interesting approach because for the second year in row players and coaches are positive the team can achieve a favorable result against the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A power.
2. Howland likes MSU's non-conference schedule COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Walters column: Prep football season coming closer LOCAL COLUMNS