MACON -- Jakerrius Oliver would love to be a workhorse. But you're bound to get more than one player willing to shoulder a bigger load when you have an offensive line with the size and experience of the Noxubee County High School football team. With four of its five offensive linemen listed at 6-foot-3 or taller and weighing at least 250 pounds, Noxubee County has the girth and athleticism to make the most of the talents of Oliver and a deep and versatile backfield.
CALEDONIA -- Logan Suggs entered the summer hoping there would be a destination at the end of a busy road. Like many local standouts, Suggs entered the summer between his junior and senior year at Caledonia High School with a goal to secure an opportunity to play at the next level. And like more and more local players, the pitcher/infielder wanted to play in games outside the Golden Triangle to raise his profile and to increase the likelihood he could attract the attention of college coaches.
STARKVILLE -- Nobody was going to catch Rodrigues Clark. The Starkville High School football running back broke off a 50-yard run for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to propel No. 3 Starkville to a 28-6 victory against No. 4 West Point in a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) game Friday night at Yellow Jacket Stadium.
STEENS -- Nate Parker had plenty of time to think about the possibilities. After watching senior quarterback Dawson Shaw suffer a knee injury in the season opener against Heritage Academy, the Columbus Christian Academy junior had a feeling his role was going to change. Parker's worst fears were confirmed a few days later when he learned that Shaw, one of the team's vocal and on-field leaders, had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
WEST POINT -- Chris Craven isn't a big fan of looking ahead or in the past. The second-year Oak Hill Academy football coach prefers to take a more focused approach to determine what is going to help his team have success on game day. Craven doesn't believe past results will dictate how a game will turn out. Instead, he feels wins and losses in previous seasons only serve as fodder for people to discuss prior to the latest matchup.
Kris Pickle sees the difference in Thomas Stevens after one season. A year ago, Pickle watched Stevens go through the growing pains most quarterbacks have in their first season taking over a team. While Stevens had his flashes, the Trojans struggled through a season that saw them unable to close several close games. The result was a three-win campaign that left New Hope eagerly awaiting a fresh start. It's easy to see now why New Hope was so optimistic about 2016.
A busy summer of baseball paid off Tuesday for Thomas Stevens. After playing close to 80 games with a variety of teams, the New Hope High School senior catcher/outfielder gave a verbal commitment to attend Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. He made the commitment Tuesday evening after his second visit to the school.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School football coach Ricky Woods spends a lot of time in August and September talking about rivalry games. In Week 1, Woods addressed the rivalry between Starkville and Noxubee County high schools. The teams have faced each other the last few years in what has turned out to be an entertaining season opener.
MACON -- Kyziah Pruitt doesn't back down from a challenge. A year ago, the freshman defensive back didn't hesitate when he was asked to help shut down Starkville High School All-State wide receiver A.J. Brown in the season opener. Pruitt's performance helped him become a fixture in the secondary for a team that went on to win its second-consecutive Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A State title. This season, Pruitt is ready to shoulder an even bigger burden.
THORSBY, Ala. -- The James Thompson era began with a dominating performance as the Pickens County High School football team defeated Thorsby 52-0 in the Alabama High School Activities Association (AHSAA) season opener. Junior quarterback Zach Thomas led the Tornadoes with two passing scores and two rushing scores. Caleb Bonner also had a couple of rushing scores.
Columbus High School senior quarterback C.J. Gholar made numerous plays Friday night. He could only watch, though, as Noxubee County made one more play in the end. In one of the state's marquee matchups at Falcon Field, No. 5 Columbus and No. 10 Noxubee County battled until the final seconds of a hard-fought 24-23 victory by the visiting Tigers.
Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter plans to grade his defense a little better this week. "I think they have worked their way up from a C-plus," Shorter said. "Yes, they will get better than that." Two goal-line stands and two safeties will make any coach giddy. All of those defensive plays loomed large in Noxubee County's 24-23 victory against Columbus on Friday night at Falcon Field.
MOOREVILLE -- After a tough loss in the season opener, Caledonia High School football team bounced back for a 49-24 victory against Mooreville on Friday night. "We felt good about how we played," Caledonia coach Andy Crotwell said. "Always want to get that first win. We still have things to iron out. I thought we played much better, a cleaner game than we did in the opener. We had some drops against Shannon in the passing game, and I don't remember having one in this win.
Win every week. That's the motto the Starkville Academy football team lives by. Noah Methvin and Dalton Dempsey helped make sure the Volunteers stayed perfect Friday night. Methvin threw for three touchdowns, including one to Dempsey, who rushed for 127 yards and two more scores in Starkville Academy's 41-14 victory against West Lowndes in Columbus.
WEST POINT -- It had been looming all night. The West Point High School football team's defense had broken up six passes and dropped at least three sure-fire interceptions entering the fourth quarter of its season-opening game against Louisville. With West Point clinging to a 14-13 lead, Jeremy Brownlee delivered the first of two back-breaking interceptions that changed the game.
ABERDEEN -- More times than not, a height advantage for one team over its opponent in basketball generally translates into a win for the taller team. A height advantage for the New Hope High School football team played a significant role here Friday, as the Trojans rolled to a 41-24 victory against Aberdeen.
OXFORD -- Malik Brown demonstrated coolness under pressure Friday night. After throwing a touchdown to Tavian Clark in the third quarter, the Starkville High School sophomore quarterback thought the kicking team was coming on the field. But Starkville coach Ricky Woods decided to go for the two-point conversion. However, there was some confusion after the score, as players were running on and off the field and the play clock was winding down. Woods called a timeout and brought the Yellow Jackets together.
All Mac Barnes and the Lamar School football team needed was a second chance Friday night. Denied a scoring opportunity by a pass breakup by Heritage Academy's Brandon Jones on the final play of the second quarter, the Raiders went into halftime holding a tenuous 13-6 lead and knowing they needed to come out in the third quarter and make a statement.
Chris Blair believes the Columbus High School football team's defense is underrated. "We are on a mission this season," said Blair, a defensive end. "We feel like we can be one of the best defenses in (Mississippi High School Activities Association Class) 6A. A lot of people took notice last year. Now, we are back to show even more people the type of defense we are capable of playing. Everybody on the team is excited about our potential."
WEST POINT -- West Point High School football player Terrence Cherry always has been a man of few words. The massive defensive lineman prefers to lead his team by verbal motions and play-making actions.
1. Mullen balances calling plays, running team COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Shorter hopes Noxubee County can follow 2015 path HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Columbus awaits region showdown vs. No. 3 Tupelo HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Offensive line has fueled Starkville High's success HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. EMCC, Mississippi Delta leave past behind them COLLEGE SPORTS