Early-season victories against Louisville, Columbus, and Noxubee County indicated the West Point High School football team was ready to reclaim its status as one of the elite teams in Class 5A of the Mississippi High School Activities Association.
A 50-28 loss to Class 5A, Region 1 rival Oxford revealed more work needed to be done, so West Point quickly went back to work, salivating at a chance to play Oxford again.
Eight wins later, West Point (11-2) will get that chance at 7 tonight when it plays Oxford (11-2) for the North State Class 5A championship in Oxford.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State sophomore guard Kayla Nevitt had an extra advantage to work her way into the good graces of coach Vic Schaefer.
"I have watched Kayla play since seventh or eighth grade," Vic Schaefer said. "She and (Vic's daughter and Kayla's MSU teammate) Blair (Schaefer) have played probably a hundred Amateur Athletic Union games together. I know her potential. I have seen it for a long time. I know more about her than any other player I have ever recruited. These nights will be the norm."
GRENADA -- West Point High School senior defensive lineman Tony Rush has been waiting for this moment for quite some time.
"The senior class wanted to bring West Point football back," Rush said. "After getting put out in the first round in my 10th-grade year and the second round last year, this game meant a lot to me. The seniors really poured their hearts into it. We wanted to make it a special season."
West Point took another step toward a special season by beating Grenada 16-9 in a second-round Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State playoff game Friday night at Charger Stadium.
The succession of the quarterback position at Aberdeen High School started in 2014.
Quarterback Josh Williams was making the Bulldogs go for his third and final season. Tramonte Prather was a junior and earning a reputation as one of the team's top defensive players.
While Aberdeen racked up the victories, each player knew the Bulldogs would look a lot different in 2015.
West Point High School boys basketball coach Brad Cox remembers the nightmare of his team trying to guard Starkville High School guard Tyson Carter during a summer league game.
Cox said his young team hung tight through three quarters until Carter took the contest over.
In his team's home opener Thursday night, Carter did the destruction much earlier.
When the season began, football players at West Point High School felt like the team was ready to return to the upper echelon in Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A play.
West Point (10-2) will have a chance to prove it has realized that goal at 7 tonight when it plays at Grenada (10-2) in the second round of the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs.
New Hope High School senior Carlos Brooks likes the "positive vibes" coming from his basketball team.
With a share of the Southeastern Conference Western Division title still within reach, two rivalry games will determine the No. 25 Ole Miss football team's regular-season fate.
First, Ole Miss (7-3, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) will return from its open date to play host to No. 17 LSU (7-2, 4-2) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday (WCBI). The Egg Bowl regular-season finale against Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3) will be at 6:15 p.m. Nov. 28 in Starkville.
Columbus High School junior running back Kylin Hill knows how far the Falcons traveled this season.
He also knows a state championship is within the team's grasp.
Columbus saw its 2015 season end with a 56-42 loss to Clinton in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A playoffs Friday night. Hill did his part with 24 rushes for 382 yards and five touchdowns.
For his efforts, Hill is The Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
The Columbus High School football team experienced every feeling Friday night in its Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A first-round playoff game.
The Falcons then felt the one they feared the worst: Finality.
SCOOBA -- Jahyde Gardiner had a good Thursday.
The East Mississippi Community College sophomore forward foreshadowed an excellent night on the basketball court when he hit an off-balance 3-pointer in the corner as the shot clock horn sounded.
Earlier in the day, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his basketball career at Tennessee-Martin.
Junior Demarrio Edwards has watched the West Point High School football team's offense grow up before his eyes.
"The numbers we are putting up right now are scary," said Edwards, who plays quarterback, wide receiver, and anything else that might pop up. "To think we are doing all of this with mainly two sophomores is incredible. It has been fun to be along for the ride."
Edwards is referencing sophomore quarterback Marcus Murphy and sophomore running back Chris Calvert. Each have cleared the 1,000-yard rushing mark.
Roughly two years ago, when he was hired, Columbus High School head football coach Randal Montgomery promised his team would compete for championships
STARKVILLE -- There was slight reluctance when Tyson Carter was handed a cowbell by a family member.
Once ranked third in the nation, the Ole Miss football team is now simply trying to save the season.
HERNANDO -- The payoff came Friday night for Columbus High School senior Marquavius Mitchell.
"Marquavius was down earlier in the year because he wasn't getting that many balls," Columbus junior quarterback C.J. Gholar said. "I told him to keep his head up because his day was coming. He is a great playmaker. I told him his day was coming."
SCOOBA -- The East Mississippi Community College football program isn't looking to be the favorite program in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges.
Instead, the Lions would be happy with being less hated.
WEST POINT -- Starkville High School senior Keith Harris struggles to find the right word to describe his team.
"We aren't the underdog because we are No. 1 team in the state," Harris said. "But coach wants us to play like we are the underdog. That is our mentality. This is a new season, and we are going to have to scrap for everything we get."
Starkville, the reigning Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A state champion, used a 19-2 run to pull away late for a 77-59 victory against West Point in the final game of the season-opening West Point Classic on Saturday night.
SCOOBA -- Life can sometimes deal some harsh realities on the recruiting trail.
East Mississippi Community College football coach Buddy Stephens has heard a little bit of it all from recruits and their parents. When you lead the state's best program, it goes with the territory.
"When we first got here, nobody thought we were going to win," Stephens said. "Then we started winning. Then you start recruiting better and the state opens up all of a sudden. When the state opened up, now you are recruiting overall and recruiting tactics change."
WEST POINT -- Two numbers -- 50 and 28 -- are displayed prominently in the West Point High School locker room.
To the casual observer, the numbers might not stand out. To a West Point defensive player, the back story can be shared rather quickly.
"Coach writes down 50 and 28 just about every day," West Point senior linebacker Nick Melton said. "Everywhere we go, it is somewhere. It means a lot to us. It is the motivation when things are tough. It's there when we need to be pushed that one extra mile."
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