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.
Nearly all the coaches contacted Saturday night were pleased with their teams’ performances Friday night in jamboree/scrimmage action across the state. Some, like Immanuel first-year Shawn Gates, might have gotten a little hoarse from all of the excitement. But many of the coaches and teams won’t have a lot of time to spend fine-tuning things. The majority of Mississippi High School Activities Association schools in the area will play classic games Friday, while Mississippi Association of Independent Schools also will kick off the season Friday.
STARKVILLE — The Starkville High School football team showed its fans Thursday night what it can do in a one-hour scrimmage. The scrimmage was part of “Meet the Players Night,” and Starkville High football coach Bill Lee was careful not to show too much because Noxubee County coach M.C. Miller was one of several coaches at the game. The Yellow Jackets will take on the defending Class 4A state champions Aug. 21 in Macon.
The New Hope High School slow-pitch softball team is going to have a little bit of everything this season. The Lady Trojans are young and inexperienced at several positions. Coach Tabitha Beard’s team also has an assortment of “older” players who have been with the program for two to three years and who are used to advancing deep into the playoffs and competing for state titles. Last season was no exception.
STARKVILLE — A year ago, Lyndsey Haynes was trying to find her groove. A torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee forced her to wear a brace that affected her delivery. The injury also left the right-handed pitcher on the Starkville Academy fastpitch softball team wondering whether she would regain her form. But last weekend Haynes showed she has found her groove again.
STARKVILLE -- Before wrapping her arm in ice after pitching four games on Saturday, Starkville Academy’s Lyndsey Haynes got to wrap her hands on a championship trophy. The Lady Volunteers remained in the winner’s bracket throughout and won the Starkville Invitational Tournament for the first time. The event was held at the Mississippi State Recreation Complex. Starkville Academy (8-1) defeated Winston Academy 6-3, Central Academy 8-7 and Pillow Academy 8-0 and 5-4 in eight innings to claim the title.
WEST POINT –– The Heritage Academy Lady Patriots had a run taken off the scoreboard Thursday afternoon, but didn’t need it to claim a 5-3 victory against Oak Hill Academy. The Lady Patriots (2-1) scored three runs in the second inning and would have scored four if one hadn’t been taken away. The Lady Patriots thought they tied the score 2-2 in the second when Logan Waggoner crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice and the home plate umpire extended his arms to signal safe.
STARKVILLE –– The girls who make up the Starkville Academy soccer team weren’t born when Artie Cosby was a record-breaking kicker at Mississippi State. All they know is he one day he could lead them to a championship. Cosby takes over the reins as soccer coach at Starkville Academy, and he’s enjoyed preparing for the season.
The championship feeling still lingers in Krisi Boren’s mind. A year ago, the Heritage Academy girls soccer team had a season to remember, falling to River Oaks (Monroe, La.) in its first appearance in a Mississippi Private School Association (now MAIS) state title match. The landscape will be different this season for the Lady Patriots. Heritage Academy, which finished 11-4 last season, will move from Division II to Division I this season. The transition means tougher divisional games against the likes of Starkville Academy, Pillow Academy,Washington School, and Magnolia Heights.
1. Central Academy softball looks for return to state tournament HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Walters column: Noxubee County rarely backs away from challenge HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. MSU men's basketball releases non-conference schedule COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Bulldogs land commitment from McLaurin at Collins LOCAL SPORTS
5. Oak Hill Academy softball hopes to build on win column HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS