INDIANOLA -- Sean Harrison didn't expect to see a different Indianola Academy from the one that beat his team four weeks ago. After scoring 159 in three wins since playing Indianola Academy, the Heritage Academy football coach believed his team could erase the memory of a 22-point loss in the regular season and punch its ticket to the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Class AAA State title game.
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter didn't lack confidence. Despite his offense's struggles moving the ball, the Noxubee County High School football coach felt that unit was going to correct its mistakes in time to pull out a win.
WEST POINT -- If time of possession figured into deciding the outcome of a game, Holmes County Central would be making plans to visit Oxford next week for a second-round Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A playoff game. Fortunately for West Point, points on the scoreboard win games, so despite having possession of the ball for only 8 minutes, 27 seconds in the first half, the Green Wave went to the locker room with a 20-0 cushion. The Green Wave rode that lead to a 41-7 victory in a first-round game at Hamblin Stadium.
When it happened, no one could have guessed it'd be the difference in the game. It was the Shaw High School football team's first play from scrimmage, and what looked like early game jitters -- a fumbled snap -- turned into a game-breaker: a 67-yard run by quarterback Shontarius Wright that set up an 8-yard run and the only score.
MADISON -- For the 21-member Columbus High School football senior class, the end of their careers happened in heart-breaking fashion. However, the ending wasn't unexpected because the Falcons had seen this script so many times this season. Madison Central erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit to take a 28-25 victory against Columbus before a sparse crowd at Jaguar Stadium in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A playoffs.
CARROLLTON, Ala. -- The bat is nearly as big as Kacy Noland. When you're 8 years old, it sometimes can be difficult to find a bat that is the right size. These days, that bat would look small in Noland's hands because the girl in the picture nestled in the glove on top of the table has grown up. A look to the left and to the right is all it takes to trace the maturation of Noland to a standout softball player at Pickens Academy and for the High Intensity travel ball team. Those pictures show a player who has grown to 5-foot-6 -- or taller depending on the shoes -- and grown to love a sport she first started playing in a Dixie Youth league in Aliceville, Alabama.
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter knows what he is talking about when he says the playoffs are the Noxubee County High School football team's time of the year. When your program has won four state championships in the last nine seasons, it's a lot easier for your players to re-focus for the one-and-done part of the campaign. In the last 10 seasons, Noxubee County is 78-7 in the last three months of the season. Noxubee County's success in October and November has resulted in back-to-back Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A State titles, as well as championships in 2012 and 2008.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School boys basketball coach Greg Carter has built a perennial state championship contender in large part due to rebounding and defensive tenacity. With a young squad, Carter and his staff will spend more time than usual teaching those virtues.
Anthony King is a mixture of emotions. The West Lowndes High School football coach is excited that playoff football is almost here. He is confident about the Panthers' talent and potential as he surveys his players in their kickoff coverage drill.
Black and gold are perfect colors for Thomas Stevens. Prior to Wednesday, the colors were solely dedicated to the New Hope High School uniforms Stevens wore as a member of the school's football and baseball teams. On Wednesday, though, the black and gold in the bow tie Stevens wore to school signaled a nod to the next step in his baseball career at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. Even though Stevens couldn't convince teammate Parker Lane, who signed with Mississippi Delta C.C. in Moorhead, to wear a bow tie or attend NEMCC with him, both players said they found the right fit.
Sean Harrison knows what is in store for the Heritage Academy football team. The Patriots' first-year head coach hasn't had to wear out the buttons on his laptop to go back and forward watching film of Indianola Academy games from this season. As much as Harrison would love to discover a secret to the Colonels' success, he knows there is a simple recipe for his team when it meets Indianola Academy at 7 p.m. Friday in the third round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Class AAA playoffs.
For the Columbus High School basketball team, every game matters.
Kiara Conner loves defense. The Columbus High School senior enjoys snaring pop ups and chasing down fly balls so much that she enjoys recording outs more than she does blasting home runs. That might seem hard to believe, especially after seeing how easily Conner can use a bat to make a softball disappear.
STEENS -- The waiting was killing Chris Webber. A first-place individual finish didn't quiet Webber's nerves. Seeing teammates Glenn Misiak and Nate Parker finish shortly after him made things a little easier, but Webber knew the Columbus Christian Academy boys cross country team needed two more runners to finish before the squad could win a second Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AA State title.
Hannah Britt couldn't get the thought out of her head: What if she never played soccer again? The thought danced around in her mind as she was airlifted to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Spasms in her back caused the Heritage Academy senior to lose sensation in her legs, which caused doctors to consider the possibility Britt might have an issue with her spinal cord.
Garrett Parish's soccer profile is growing. The Caledonia High School senior's play at midfielder and defender has helped him earn a reputation for being one of the area's most versatile players. Parish solidified that status in the summer when he was one of 68 players named to the Region III Boys 1999 Olympic Development Programs Trials Pool. Starkville High's Vance Dewberry also was named to the squad, which is made up of players from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas (North and South). The players took part in a five-day camp in July in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
ALICEVILLE, Ala. -- The Aliceville High School football team picked up in the postseason Friday night where the regular season left off.
GREENWOOD -- Andy Crotwell would have organized one big hug if it was possible. But it's nearly impossible to get 28 people together in one space, even if they are all seniors. That's why the Caledonia High School football coach went from player to player to acknowledge the oldest players and to thank them for their contributions to the team's second trip to the playoffs in three years.
CLINTON -- The champs are out Behind the rushing attack of Akers and a key interception by Kam White with 1 minute, 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Clinton High School football team outlasted Starkville 35-28 Friday night to clinch the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A, Region 2 title at Arrow Field.
MACON -- While talking to his team Monday at practice, Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter brought up South Panola. With 11 state championships, South Panola is considered one of the best high school football programs in the state of Mississippi. But South Panola didn't win a title last year.
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