July 5, 2018 10:47:02 AM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Dust off the clipboards. Print out the stat sheets. Sharpen the pencils and prepare the rain gear.
The 2018 football season is almost here.
For many college football fans, the countdown already has started. As is the custom with many schools, particularly in the Southeastern Conference, the countdown to 2018 started immediately after the end of the 2017 campaign.
In this part of the country, optimism is high for the beginning of the Joe Moorhead era at Mississippi State. There also is plenty of interest at Alabama, where Nick Saban will try to reload to lead the Crimson Tide to another national title, and at Ole Miss, where Matt Luke had the interim title removed and officially took over as the Rebels coach.
The excitement is equally high for the area's prep football teams. Starkville (Class 6A) and Noxubee County (Class 4A) figure to be among the title contenders in two of the Mississippi High School Activities Association's highest classifications. West Point, the MHSAA's two-time reigning Class 5A champion, suffered key graduation losses, but coach Chris Chambless' defense has plenty of veteran leadership and should be one of the state's top units. Starkville Academy will look to replace a group of seniors that played a key role in the team's run to the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA championship, while Heritage Academy welcomes back a bunch of talented juniors that will look to emerge after the graduation of running back Dontae Gray.
New coaches at Columbus (Eric Rice), New Hope (Wade Tackett), and Caledonia (Michael Kelly) have generated renewed optimism at those schools that their teams can return to the playoffs in 2018.
The countdown will get under way Tuesday, when Starkville Academy has its annual fall media day, which will feature plenty of pictures. MHSAA volleyball and slow-pitch softball teams will be allowed to start practice July 23, while MHSAA football, swimming, and cross country squads will start practice July 30.
The Dispatch will help prepare football fans with its annual prep and college football sections. Those special previews will feature stories on top players, schedules, rosters, radio listings, and everything a fan needs to get ready for the new season. The Dispatch also will continue to highlight some of the area's top players who likely will go on to play in college. Starkville and Noxubee County likely will lead the way with multiple players selected because coach Chris Jones at Starkville and coach Tyrone Shorter at Noxubee County figure to be loaded.
As high schools begin their countdowns, Mississippi University for Women is ramping up preparations for year two in its return to intercollegiate athletics. Last season, The W rolled out men's soccer, volleyball, women's cross country, baseball, and softball. In 2018-19, the school will add women's soccer, men's cross country, men's and women's basketball, men's golf, and men's and women's tennis. The W will add to the excitement about its growth with a series of sports camps the rest of this month. You can go to http://www.owlsathletics.com for a look at the 2018 men's soccer and volleyball schedules, which were released earlier this week, as well as all of The W's camp offerings.
It's hard to believe another season is almost here, but we are excited. As always, feel free to email us or to call us (662-327-1297) with ideas or suggestions for the upcoming seasons, or if you want to publicize an event or an accomplishment.
A reminder to coaches, scorekeepers, and parents to send in scores and information from all of your games/events. We also welcome submissions of pictures from games. We will make every effort to publish all of the results and pictures we receive to ensure we are providing the best possible coverage. If you have any questions, call us at 662-327-1297. The best time to reach us is weekdays after 9:30 a.m. If you don't reach us, please leave a message so we can get back to you.
We look forward to another season and to have an opportunity to tell you the stories of the coaches and players in one of the best areas for sports in the Southeast.
Adam Minichino is sports editor of The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at ctsportseditor. You can email him at [email protected]
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.