CARROLLTON, Ala. -- Inexperience doesn't faze Josh Thacker. If it did, the Pickens Academy third-year head football coach would look at his roster for the 2015 season with wide eyes and see a bunch of 7s, 8s, and 9s under the grade column. All told, Pickens Academy enters tonight's season opener against Ben's Ford Christian (La.) with only four seniors and two juniors on a roster that features 18 players in grades seven through nine.
History will be made tonight when area teams kick off the 2015 prep football season. Featured among the non-region and non-division games that will kick off at 7 tonight is a matchup between Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Columbus Christian and Heritage Academy. While the schools have faced each other in other sports, tonight's game in Columbus is believed to be the first between the two in football.
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter doesn't see the Noxubee County High School football team's season opener against Starkville High as a chance for redemption.
Danny Crawford is back in Lowndes County. This time, the longtime coach intends to make his stay a little more permanent. Last week, the Lowndes County School Board approved the hiring of the former West Oktibbeha County High School coach as the new boys and girls basketball coach at West Lowndes High School in Columbus. The move comes after Crawford's old school and East Oktibbeha County High were consolidated into the Starkville School District at the end of the 2014-15 school year.
MACON -- Qendarrion Barnett's laugh -- a quick "Heh-heh" -- gets you thinking. A few minutes later, as you watch the Noxubee County High school senior stroke his burgeoning goatee, a smile comes across your face and you see why the nickname fits him so well. No, not the moniker "June bug" that was given to Barnett by his mother, Lakeisha Hunt, and probably is more recognizable. The one you're thinking of is "old man," which is the one members of the Noxubee County High football team are more apt to use around one of the veterans of the reigning 2014 Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A state champions.
STARKVILLE -- A.J. Brown is on the cusp of starting his senior year in football. But the multi-sport standout had business to take care on the diamond before he and his football teammates hit the field Friday night. The Starkville High School wide receiver and center fielder played in the Under Armour All-America baseball game Saturday at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He also will play in the Under Armour All-America football game in January, becoming just the second player to play in both games.
April Reese and Abigail Wise knew they were going to have to step into bigger roles this year on the Starkville High School volleyball team. Coming off the program's best season in history and losing several key performers, including seniors Khris Carr and Vicky Vo, Reese and Wise realize they are going to have to make their presence known at the net if Starkville is going to return to the playoffs and build on its first playoff victories and a trip to the Class III North State title match.
STARKVILLE -- The New Hope High School football team found its offensive rhythm late Friday night in the New Hope Jamboree. New Hope scored two touchdowns in the final 2 minutes, 38 seconds to rally past Amory 14-10 in the opening game of the two-day, seven-game event at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium. Each game included the varsity squads playing a regulation half and junior varsity squads playing a 20-minute half with a running clock.
STARKVILLE -- West Point High School sophomore Marcus Murphy admitted he was a little nervous before making his first start at quarterback Saturday night. The offensive line then did its job, Murphy found the end zone, and the nerves went away. Murphy rushed for two touchdowns and finished with 160 rushing yards as West Point rallied past Kosciusko 21-14 at the New Hope Jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium.
STARKVILLE -- New Hope's High School preseason football jamboree has become one of the best in the state of Mississippi. The Trojans played host to the event for the sixth year in a row Friday and Saturday, and for the fifth time it was at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium. New Hope second-year coach Kris Pickle heard good things about the jamboree when he took over the program prior to last season, and this year's 14-team event might have been the best.
MACON -- Seven area teams will help kick off the 2015 prep football season this weekend at the New Hope High School Jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium. Amory will take on New Hope at 7 tonight to kick off the two-day event. Action will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with East Webster taking on Hamilton. Aberdeen vs. Forest (11 a.m.), Columbus vs. Louisville (1 p.m.), Holmes Central vs. Noxubee County (3 p.m.), Kosciusko vs. West Point (5 p.m.), and Grenada vs. Starkville (7 p.m.) will round out the scrimmages that will help set stage for the season openers next week.
Kylin Hill spent the summer learning.
Columbus High School second-year football coach Randal Montgomery has seen a transformation in one of his star players.
Kaitlyn Oswalt had just about had it.
WEST POINT -- At 6-foot-7, 295-pounds Scott Lashley poses a very large shadow on the football field.
STARKVILLE -- Kobe Jones took advantage of his opportunities this summer. The Starkville High School senior defensive lineman attended a couple of camps around the Southeast and impressed. His play paid off as he received a scholarship offer from Alabama.
STARKVILLE -- Lorenzo Dantzler is pretty happy with his commitment. The Starkville High School defensive lineman committed to Louisiana Tech earlier this spring. He has seven other offers, including Southern Mississippi and Memphis. He hopes more offers will pour in this fall as he plays his final season for the Yellow Jackets. If that happens, he'll re-evaluate his options.
STARKVILLE -- Coming off the best finish in program history, the Starkville High School volleyball team will have to replace eight seniors. Starkville lost to DeSoto Central in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class III North State championship last season to finish 22-11. Coach Lauren Love relied on the seniors in the playoff run, but this year there will be new players stepping into the roles left by the likes of Khris Carr and Vicky Vo. On Saturday, Love will get a chance to see who might take leadership roles on the team when Starkville plays exhibition matches in Tupelo against host Tupelo and Madison Central.
STARKVILLE -- A.J. Brown is one of the hottest commodities in the state of Mississippi. The Starkville High School senior is the state's fifth-best player in the 2016 recruiting class and the 14th-best wide receiver in the country, according to 247Sports. With all the attention he is receiving from football, Brown doesn't want his second love -- baseball -- to fall to the wayside. He wants to play both sports at the next level.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy first-year softball coach Rob Barron has had to learn his new team quickly. Fortunately for Barron, there aren't many Lady Volunteers to get to know. Starkville Academy is dressing 12 players this season. However, a strong senior class is expected to lead the way. After dropping its home opener to Central Academy on Monday, Starkville Academy returns to action at 4 p.m. today at Kemper Academy.
1. Pickens Academy playing for assistant coach Copland HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Clayborn ready to lead MSU's offensive line COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Roberts shines at QB in first start for EMCC COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Columbus, Noxubee County put 1-0 records on line HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. New Hope wants to bounce back after losing opener HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS