Volleyball is a lot more than a recreational sport to Lauren Love and Shay Ashford. But it takes time to change the culture at schools that don’t have the tradition in sports like volleyball, which is still relatively new in the state of Mississippi. That challenge doesn’t faze Lauren Love or Shay Ashford. The first-year coaches both have played sports in college and now are focused on bringing their love for volleyball to Starkville and Columbus high schools.
Meridian High School coach Larry Weems believes he could use the services of quarterback Tyler Russell and wide receiver Chris Smith in Starkville tonight. Although that’s not possible, that’s how much respect Weems has for the Yellow Jackets. Russell and Smith, two Mississippi State freshmen, told Weems they would be available if needed at 7:30 tonight when Meridian plays Starkville. MSU plays host to Jackson State on Saturday.
Rivalry games always are intense. But as much as Heritage Academy football coach Brad Butler is looking forward to tonight’s matchup (7) against Starkville Academy, he is more excited that the game will be the Class AAA, District 1 opener for both teams. To Butler, that fact is crucial for the Patriots (2-0), who will try to build on the momentum they earned last week in a come-from-behind 13-12 victory at Winston County.
Coaches can prepare for spread offenses or dart-quick running backs. They also can devise schemes to frustrate even the strongest pass rush. But New Hope High School football coach Michael Bradley discovered another opponent this week that is even tougher: Sickness. The Trojans (1-0) had 24 players miss practice at some point this week as they prepared to take on Amory (0-2) at 7:30 tonight. The flu bug that is affecting the state played a role in more than 100 students being absent Thursday from New Hope High.
David Boykin admits his football team doesn’t have anything to gain tonight. If the Class 4A Caledonia High School Confederates beat the Class 2A West Lowndes Panthers, no one will raise an eyebrow because it is what is expected. But if the Panthers travel to Caledonia and earn the victory, people will be surprised. Boykin hopes his players will be ready to prevent that from happening.
WEST POINT — Michael Carr doesn’t need a DVD player. He doesn’t need a remote control for a VCR. The West Point High School senior has all the pictures and replays he needs in his head. They’re one he would like to forget. Carr has had two weeks to relive the memory of Shannon’s 27-20 season-opening victory against West Point.
The colors he was wearing were different, but it was impossible not to recognize the face. So as Bubba Davis climbed the bleachers on the home side of West Point High School’s Hamblin Stadium, he stopped to greet multiple well-wishers. Davis smiled as he talked to the fans who were there on that May evening to watch the spring game between Louisville and West Point.
Beware the sneak attack. The Central Academy fast-pitch softball team can’t pinpoint its origin. The Lady Vikings never know when it’s going to come. But when the sneak attack arrives, hits are sure to follow. On Tuesday, scorekeeper/assistant coach Pam Dawkins provided the fuse and Corey Dawkins, Kellie Hailey, and Blake Rigdon helped light the fire that sparked the Lady Vikings’ sneak attack.
ABERDEEN — Jamerson Love knew something needed to be done. The Aberdeen High School football team’s dream of a perfect season ended in week one at Columbus, but Love knew the season wasn’t over. Still, the senior running back realized the Bulldogs needed someone to provide a spark to help get the team rolling again.
STEENS — Immanuel Christian football coach Shawn Gates said he noticed some positives in Friday night’s 36-22 loss to the Central Academy Vikings. The biggest positive, Gates said, is sophomore running back Michael Tate. “There was a lot of courage out of Michael Tate,” he said. “When he was hurt he stepped it up and went back in.” Tate, who scored one touchdown, was instrumental in setting up all three of the Rams’ scores.
MABEN — Timakis Bell had 66 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Demetrius Obriant added 16 yards with two touchdowns Friday night to help the East Webster High School football team defeat West Oktibbeha 40-0. East Webster’s defense sparked the victory. The Wolverines had four interceptions — two by Miguel Graham and one each by Obriant, and Ryan Johnson. Brennan Sparks and Obriant also helped East Webster recover two fumbles to give it excellent field position.
GREENWOOD –– The Oak Hill Academy Raiders rallied in the second half, but lost to Pillow Academy 48-21 on Friday night. Oak Hill Academy outscored Pillow Academy 21-7 in the second half after trailing 41-0 at halftime. Quarterback Davis Clayton got the Raiders (0-2) on the scoreboard in the third quarter when he scored on a 10-yard run. Jake Orman scored twice for the Raiders in the final quarter on runs of 12 and 15 yards.
REFORM, Ala. –– The Pickens County Tornadoes made a winner of Scott Marchant in his debut as head coach Friday night by doubling up Greensboro 48-24. The victory helped Pickens County atone for a 26-21 loss to Greensboro in its season opener last season. “It’s thrilling,” Marchant said of his getting his first win as a head coach. “It’s good to get that first one out of the way. I feel blessed. We’ve got a lot of good kids, a lot of good football players, and a great football staff helping me. I’m glad I could be a part of it.”
ABERDEEN — Valentine’s Day is still months away, but Ray Brooks’ defense left Lester Miley Stadium with ‘Love’ on their minds. Aberdeen senior running back Jamerson Love accumulated 316 all-purpose yards and scored five touchdowns Friday night in the Bulldogs’ 52-14 blowout. “I knew the team was depending on me, so I just put them on my back,” Love said. “I just try to practice hard and play hard. That’s the best game I have ever had since I’ve played at Aberdeen High School.” Love, a 5-foot-11, 175-pounder, picked up 238 yards on 16 carries and four touchdowns. He caught a pair of passes for 78 yards and another score.
VERNON, Ala. — Lance Bobbitt, Carson Chiquito, and Marquis Plant are going to try to bring the mohawk back to Lamar County High School. The seniors didn’t have much luck in the preseason convincing their teammates the hairdo was the way to go. Things just might change after Friday night. Plant caught two touchdown passes from Michael Bradford, Bobbitt rushed for another score, and Chiquito played a key role up front to help the Lamar County football team defeat South Lamar 61-20 in the season opener for both teams at George Bell Stadium.
LOUISVILLE — It was a double dose of déja vu for the Winston Academy Patriots and their fans Friday night. When Heritage Academy backup fullback Stance Henderson broke three tackles and raced 54 yards for a game-winning touchdown with 3 minutes, 27 seconds to play in the game, Winston Academy fans had to think back to memories of Henderson’s father, Joey, who starred at running back for the school’s undefeated 1975 state championship team and also wore No. 5. Winston Academy’s 13-12 loss to Heritage Academy also was eerily similar to its last-minute meltdown last week against Leake Academy, when it dominated the first half but surrendered the lead late in the second half.
The final statistics Friday night indicated the West Lowndes High School football team’s game against East Oktibbeha was a close one. But the score, 26-0 in favor of the Panthers, told a different story. Subplot A was the four interceptions the Panthers made against quarterback Chris Hunter. Subplot B was the Titans’ ability to move the football between the 20s, racking up 173 total rushing yards to West Lowndes’ 159, before seeing their drives stall or end in turnovers.
STARKVILLE — Senior wide receiver Markese Triplett caught five passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Louisville High School football team to a 26-21 victory against the Starkville Yellow Jackets. The 6-foot-4 receiver and University of Southern Mississippi commitment had an 87-yard touchdown reception on the second play from scrimmage to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead. He added a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter. “He’s just a playmaker,” Starkville coach Bill Lee said. “Louisville did a great job coaching tonight and getting the ball to the right guys.”
MACON — Noxubee County High School football coach M.C. Miller still has some offensive weapons to put on the field while quarterback/wide receiver/free safety Vincent Sanders recovers from a fractured jaw. Running backs Patreon Hopkins and Jontae Skinner each scored a touchdown Friday night to help the defending Class 4A state champions beat Columbus 23-12. The Tigers (2-0) prefer the passing game, but Miller has no problem going to the running game while sophomore quarterback Jared Johnson gets used to the system.
Football coaches drill the importance of the fourth-quarter effort into their teams. Many will pace the sidelines holding up four fingers and shouting “fourth quarter.” The last 12 minutes sometimes involves a team blowing a lead due to exhaustion or sloppy play or players emerging to make a big play. The latter happened Friday night for the New Hope High School football team in a 28-17 victory against Tupelo in the season opener for both teams.
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