You only need to look at Robert Woodard II to tell he is serious. The Columbus High School junior boys basketball player's arms glisten with perspiration as he rises up for another jump shot in the 3-point contest. Woodard II's leg uncoil with a ferocity that lifts him to the rim in the slam dunk contest.
STARKVILLE -- Carter Roach always has made time for baseball. The Starkville Academy middle infielder also plays football and basketball, but baseball is always on his mind. Even after a long basketball practice, he finds time to work on his baseball game. Being bruised and battered from football doesn't affect the time he puts in on the diamond.
MACON -- If history does in fact repeat, the Noxubee County High School football team could be primed to turn a slow start into a fast finish. Last season, injuries hit the reigning Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A State champions hard and played a big part in the team's 2-4 start to the season. The non-conference slate was littered with the usual tests against higher classification teams, but Noxubee County wasn't able to produce at levels of previous teams in losses to Aledo (Texas), Meridian, West Point, and Kemper County.
STARKVILLE -- Chase Nicholson didn't panic. The Starkville Academy football coach knew his team needed time to adjust to Hartfield Academy's triple-option attack. Two scores by the visitors in the first quarter, though, added to Nicholson's anxiety. But the Volunteers have become adept at overcoming adversity, so Nicholson believed his team was going to respond.
CALEDONIA -- Andy Crotwell isn't satisfied. A second playoff appearance in three seasons is a significant accomplishment for a Caledonia High School football program that two years ago returned to the postseason for the first time since 2005. But the program's lack of playoff experience doesn't mean this year's seniors are satisfied with getting back to the postseason.
Patience is one of Savanah Stapleton's strengths. Ever since she started playing softball at an early age, Stapleton has dreamed about playing the sport in college. Through slow- and fast-pitch seasons at Central Academy in Macon, Stapleton honed her craft at third base and in the outfield and later at catcher.
Sean Harrison isn't counting on another 28-point first quarter or a 77-point outburst. But the Heritage Academy football coach is confident his senior-laden team isn't going to relax after a 30-point win in the first round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Class AAA playoffs.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School defensive coordinator Chuck Friend hasn't changed anything this week. The former Yellow Jacket head coach believes in relying on past practice tactics, so he is sticking with the game plan he has used all season. Friend hopes that strategy will work at 7 p.m. Friday when Starkville (7-3) faces Cam Akers and No. 2 Clinton (9-1) in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class (MHSAA) Class 6A, Region 2 game.
Bryan Vogel II spent a lot of his youth soccer days playing in older age divisions.
CALEDONIA -- Showcase events are norm for high school student-athletes looking to play at the next level.
STARKVILLE -- Willie Gay Jr. didn't brag. The Starkville High School football linebacker didn't take to Twitter or other social media sites to tell others about his most recent performance. In fact, Gay didn't think much about it. After moving to quarterback Monday, Gay rushed for 319 yards rushing on 40 carries and scored five touchdowns in a 35-28 victory against No. 2 Warren Central on Friday night in a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A, Region 2 game.
Billy Thomas felt confident Monday. The Columbus Christian Academy cross country coach used meets against Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) members Tupelo Christian, Itawamba Agricultural High School, and South Pontotoc to help his reigning Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Class AA State champion boys team prepare for a chance to win another title.
MACON -- Kyziah Pruitt knows what it is like to be close. A deep pass down the middle from Maliek Stallings in the second quarter nearly led Pruitt all the way to pay dirt. Unfortunately, Pruitt couldn't break free from a defender and had to settle for a 47-yard gain that moved the Noxubee County High School football team 4 yards from another score.
Fans rose to their feet as Dontae Gray walked off the field. Gray had just scored a 46-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter and the fans of the Heritage Academy football team gave him a standing ovation as he walked slowly back to his sideline. Gray finally acknowledged them as he reached his teammates.
STARKVILLE -- The Starkville Academy football team couldn't have had a more disastrous start to its playoff opener against 10th-seeded Hartfield Academy on Friday night. Hartfield Academy, powered by its triple-option attack, rang up 127 rushing yards on seven plays and scored two touchdowns on its first two possessions. But Codie Futral turned what typically is a routine play into the spark the Volunteers needed. The junior do-it-all athlete shot off corner and blocked the extra point attempt after the Hawks' second touchdown.
WEST POINT -- The West Point High School football team's 34-20 victory against New Hope in a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) game here Friday night proved two things. The first thing it proved is it's hard to beat a Chris Chambless-coached team at home. It also proved it is even tougher to beat the Green Wave in a region game.
After missing the postseason a year ago, the Caledonia High School football team's senior class vowed to get the squad back to the playoffs. That mission was accomplished Friday night in a 49-35 victory against Leake Central in a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A, Region 4 matchup.
South Panola High School junior quarterback Patrick Shegog was in a familiar position. "We just feel like we need a play," Shegog said. "With our defense, if we can do one thing right, we have a chance. We really aren't going to beat ourselves. You have to take it from us." Columbus tried but couldn't do just that.
ALICEVILLE -- The Aliceville High School football team will carry one of the state's longest winning streaks into Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Class 2A playoffs next week. A 2-yard touchdown run by Deonte Taylor as time expired lifted Aliceville past Hillcrest 42-41 in the regular-season finale for both teams. The victory extended the Yellow Jackets' winning streak to nine games.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School football coach Ricky Woods told a buddy Friday before his team's game against Warren Central he expected his quarterback to rush for 200 yards. As ambitious a prediction as it was, especially considering Woods moved senior standout linebacker Willie Gay Jr. behind center for the must-win game at Yellow Jacket Stadium, his prediction wasn't even close.
1. MSU football player Mullins will transfer COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Green Wave end years of frustration, take eighth crown HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. No. 3 EMCC will try to close season with bowl win COLLEGE SPORTS
5. West Point's defense dominates in title effort HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS