STARKVILLE -- After two straight playoff seasons, Starkville High School's volleyball team was primed to make a bigger splash in a new classification this season.
WEST POINT -- Three is the magic number this season for the Oak Hill Academy fast-pitch softball team.
MACON -- Sammy Lindsey hopes last year was more than a warmup for his Central Academy fast-pitch softball team.
Anna Kilarski and Kristen Phillips didn't want to waste an opportunity to have fun. Elizabeth Fields and Liz Byrne are going to make sure Kilarski, Phillips, and the rest of their pupils learn something, too.
Allie Lowe and Shiloh Ellis are convinced the Heritage Academy fast-pitch softball team just won't be a year older this season. A year ago, the Lady Patriots struggled through a season with an inexperienced and young lineup. But the players matured as the season progressed, and the team played its best game in a season-ending loss to Madison-Ridgeland Academy in the district tournament.
Murray Woody is excited to be back closer to home. After spending one year as basketball coach at Ethel High School, Woody is gearing up for a return to the sidelines as girls basketball coach at West Point High.
It isn't time for Leroy Gregg to retire. Two months ago, Gregg was preparing to take a trip to visit his daughter, Mary Frances, in Georgia when he discovered Smithville High School needed an assistant football coach.
Joey Sanders wasn't always a go-to performer. Growing up and maturing in the Noxubee County High School football program, Sanders learned to love the passing game. As one of quarterback Omarr Conner's favorite targets, Sanders blossomed into an All-State wide receiver as a senior and earned a scholarship to play football at Mississippi State.
In April, Blake Sharp went to Atlanta on a mission.
STARKVILLE -- Kayla Mosley has inherited an experienced Starkville Academy softball team that returns all but one starter. Normally, that scenario would allow a coach to make a smooth transition into her first year on the job, but finding a replacement for catcher Bailey Wofford will be Mosley's biggest undertaking this preseason.
STARKVILLE -- For each of the past two seasons, the Starkville Academy girls soccer team has been built around talented underclassmen. That trend will continue this season, as the team's hopes of making it out of the first round of the playoffs will rest on its underclassmen.
Tiffany Huddleston knows she will be asked the question. But being a "bulldog at heart" made it easier for the Starkville Academy rising junior to give a verbal commitment to play soccer at Mississippi State.
Jason Cobb knew he was going to have to make a decision. Faced with a choice of remaining a teacher and a coach or getting into administration, Cobb was focused on finding a better situation for his family.
Tradition resonates with Anthony King. When he looks back on his athletic career, King has fond memories of when he wore the navy and gold of Motley High School. He also recalls the lessons he learned from coaches like Felix Wicks and Bobby Berry.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School football coach Jamie Mitchell has a pair of familiar faces joining his staff. Mitchell announced Thursday the hiring of Chris Walters as defensive line coach and Justin Moss as offensive line coach.
STARKVILLE -- Mimi Milling wasn't looking to leave her building project as Starkville High School's fast-pitch softball coach, but family comes first. The third-year coach recently accepted a job to teach math at Northeast Lauderdale High, a move that will see her teach in the same district as her husband, Dane, who will teach at West Lauderdale High.
STARKVILLE -- After winning a state title and having two of the state's best players, how does a team come close to matching that goal without those leaders? If you're Starkville High, replacing talent is rarely an issue. But when it's young, inexperienced talent, a coach has to focus more on mental preparation than skill-building.
MACON -- Someone give Daquarius Mallard a chance to play college basketball. The former Noxubee County High School guard is unbelievably quick and can score in bunches, as evidenced by his 20-point outburst in the final seven minutes against Starkville High in a game earlier this season.
STARKVILLE -- Basketball teams can win with eight players. Rarely can a team remain competitive through a season with eight players on its roster. Starkville Academy's girls basketball team did just that this season, finishing 19-14 after losing three senior starters from the previous season.
WEST POINT -- A Division I player has to have "it." Scoring, rebounding, passing -- all facets of basketball are important -- but there's something about a player who can be a team leader and push it to even greater heights.
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