MACON -- Master Sargent Michael Johnson takes his role with the Noxubee County High School football team seriously. Johnson is the pastor of the Tabernacle of Mercy, Ministry of Jesus Christ in Columbus. He meets with the team Wednesday nights for religious counseling, leads the team through a devotion during the pregame meal on game nights, and attends all of the games.
Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter had half the story from a recent telephone call. Shorter was informed by this writer he was needed for an interview previewing his sixth Tigers' squad. Noxubee County High will play host to Starkville High in its season opener Aug. 21.
MACON -- Jackee Sherrod spends a lot of Friday nights cheering on her sons Shunnessy and Jataquist as they play on the Noxubee County High School football team. Shunnessy Sherrod, a highly recruited running back, has worked hard to get to his senior year. Jataquist Sherrod is a junior defensive back. Jackee knows the opportunities football has opened for them.
Togetherness is important to Don Whitman.
STEENS -- Robin Cochran is ready to get the word out.
MACON -- Sammy Lindsey believes it can happen. One year after falling short of its goal to play for a state title, Lindsey feels the Central Academy fast-pitch softball team is positioned for a run at a championship. A strong returning class adds to Lindsey's optimism. The fact that the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools added a fourth classification -- AAAA -- in the offseason in an effort to create a more level playing field based on school enrollment numbers has created a path Lindsey feels his team will be able to navigate, even though it has only one senior, Courtney Gaylord.
A mother, a yeller, and a jester When you're looking for your seniors to play complementary roles, it's always nice for those players to have a variety of strengths that can help the team. Gary Harris has watched seniors Kaitlyn Oswalt, Brooklyn Waldrep, and Macy Walters for the past three years, so he knows how each player has matured as a player for the Heritage Academy fast-pitch softball team. This season, he hopes those players will help set the tone for a program that has advanced to the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA State tournament two of the past three years.
STARKVILLE -- Columbus High School rising junior running back Kylin Hill is ready to be a Big Dawg.
Tate Marsh spent four decades influencing young people and coaching high school athletics.
Noxubee County High School head football coach Tyrone Shorter will begin his sixth season on Aug. 21 when the Tigers play host to Class 6A power Starkville High.
The fax machines are humming. The text messages are ringing.
STARKVILLE -- For the Starkville Academy football program, there is quite simply nothing going on this week.
STARKVILLE -- David Deets has spent several years training college athletes, but he is no stranger to high school athletes.
There already is a legacy set to play out this season for the Mississippi State basketball team. There could be a second for the 2016-17 season. On Tuesday, Starkville High School's Tyson Carter received a scholarship offer from MSU after he attended a MSU basketball camp last week. The offer is Carter's second from a Division I school, but it is his first from a Southeastern Conference team. Murray State also has offered Tyson Carter a scholarship.
STARKVILLE -- Jarrod Parks spent three years in Starkville as a student-athlete with the Mississippi State baseball team. He has found his way back to the home of the Bulldogs, but this time he will work at one of the area high schools. Earlier this week, Parks was hired as the new Starkville Academy baseball coach. Parks' first job as a head coach became official Wednesday.
For Terryonte Thomas, the grind begins each day around 6 a.m. The New Hope High School rising junior is determined to play football or basketball on the Division I level. Putting in long hours during the summer will be the key to making that dream a reality.
Allison Woolbright can recall being in gymnasiums as far back as her memory allows. If Woolbright had to guess, that's probably where she developed her love for sports and her competitive spirit. It also helped that Woolbright's mother, Rachel Prater Meacham, worked as a volleyball coach at Millport (Ala.) and South Lamar high schools, which is where Allison honed her skills as a volleyball and as a basketball player.
When New Hope High School started its 2015 baseball season, senior Josh Stillman knew the Trojans had tradition.
WEST POINT -- The stories have blended into each other throughout the years.