August 16, 2018 11:09:53 AM
Scott Walters - [email protected]
We have gotten to the hard part.
Game week is here and players are anxiously awaiting the end of the week and a chance to run through the tunnel for the first time.
As always, the waiting is the hardest part. Today, we will fill that void with some word association.
Here is the status for each area team in 2018:
Starkville is cautious. After playing for the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A State title last season, the Yellow Jackets plan to take that final step.
The Yellow Jackets know they're talented. The confidence and swagger is the right blend for a championship team, so travel forward with confidence, but be cautious.
Columbus is eager. After losing the final six games last season, the Falcons are ready for a fresh start.
New coach Eric Rice wants the Falcons to have the freedom to make plays. The confidence level is high again at Columbus.
West Point is determined. After winning 28-straight games, the Green Wave are locked, loaded, and hoping for a third-straight MHSAA Class 5A State title.
West Point always has been at its best with an air-tight defense. The Green Wave return a lot of experience on that side of the ball and shouldn't miss a beat.
Noxubee County is loaded. Imagine if you will a Tyrone Shorter-coached team with high expectations.
We ring in a new season with the Tigers looking for back-to-back Class 4A State championships for the second time in five seasons. The non-region schedule is brutal. However, when region plays begins, it has a chance to be business as usual.
New Hope is unproven. The Trojans, under new coach Wade Tackett, might face the most questions of any area team.
New Hope had some dynamic playmakers a year ago. A high-flying offense that suffered its share of injuries finished fourth in Region 4 after a drop to Class 4A. The Trojans will be even younger in 2018.
Caledonia is improving. While we have no concrete proof, but it's a safe bet the Confederates will be much improved under new coach Michael Kelly.
By the end of the 2017 season, Caledonia was starting a ton of sophomores on both sides of the ball. During the offseason, adversity came in waves as the search for a new coach took longer than expected.
Caledonia has a chance to get back to the business of winning games. It should happen quickly.
Aberdeen is explosive. Each year, it takes time to add up all of the offensive numbers from Aberdeen.
This season, senior quarterback Fred Fields has plenty of weapons. Meanwhile, the defense figures to be better.
West Lowndes is hopeful. After missing the Class 1A playoffs last season, the Panthers will look to get back on the right track.
The West Lowndes players and coaches are talking with renewed optimism. We will see if that is justified.
Starkville Academy is focused. After winning the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Class AAA State championship last year, the Volunteers have starters to replace.
Coach Chase Nichols has built a consistent program. Starkville Academy knows its identity and rarely strays from what it does best.
Heritage Academy is hungry. Yes, the Patriots have been eating regularly. However, in this sense, we talk about a team ready to break though on the championship stage.
The Patriots have to replace key members of their offense from a year ago. That being said, coach Sean Harrison has returning experience at key spots.
Oak Hill Academy is impatient. Coach Chris Craven continues to push the Raiders to the top of the MAIS Class AA ranks.
This is another team always comfortable doing what it does best. Let's see if that is enough to lead to a breakthrough.
Columbus Christian Academy is eager. Can't wait to see what Bill Beck has in store for his first season with the Rams.
A young CCA squad limped to two victories a year ago. The experience gained from that season should pay huge dividends.
Hebron Christian is back. After not seeing varsity action in 2017, the Eagles return to the field for eight-man competition.
Coach David Foster loves football. That love is felt by his players. A large group of sophomores will help the team return in a big way.
Scott Walters is a sports writer for The Dispatch. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott.
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.