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PageO Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
Talented PA hopes for run at state title
Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 PageP cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
By BILL BURRUS péçêíë=bÇáíçê
Some are calling this the most talented team at Pillow Academy since the team’s last state championship in 2010. Sixth-year PA head coach Tripp McCarty isn’t ready to go there just yet, but there is no denying this is his most experienced Mustang squad to date. He returns seven starters on offense and eight on defense from a 6-7 unit that was one defensive stop away from playing for a state title. Instead, Lamar School — trailing 36-33 with less than two minutes to go — used a trick pay for the game-winning touchdown that led to a 41-36 victory in the state semifinals. “It certainly provides a little added motivation,” McCarty said of PA’s 2018 heartbreaking loss. Last year against maybe the toughest four-game stretch in the MAIS, Pillow started 0-4 but then got things rolling with a 28-20 victory over Heritage and did enough in the second half of the season to make the playoffs, where it defeated archrival Washington School 34-7. “I think the entire roller coaster ride of last season has driven this group. We had just about everything that could go wrong occur in the first five weeks and then ended up a play away from playing for state. A large portion of this team is already battle tested and know that it will be a hard road, but they are excited to start this season.” Adding fuel to the Mustangs’ fire is the need to erase that sour taste from their mouths. “We don’t talk about it all that much. We don’t have to,” McCarty said. “Our kids, especially these seniors, want to get us over the hump.” This senior class has 16 kids playing football, the largest veteran group he has ever had at Pillow. He has eight three-year starters in this class. It’s also quite an interesting group off the field, according to McCarty. “We have so many different personalties for sure, but it all jells when we get on the grass because they are share a love for football,” said the PA coach. lccbkpb It all starts and ends with senior quarterback Shane Houston Stephens. The 6-foot-2, 196pounder set numerous school sin-
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gle-season marks last season — most attempts (297), most completions (172) and most yards (2,396) en route to being named the North AAAA Division II MVP. He also rushed for 309 yards and four TDs while matching the previous school record of 17 TD passes in a season. Stephens will likely leave Pillow as the program’s all-time leading passer — needing 1,085 yards to surpass Stewart Patridge (1989-92). He will be backed up by junior Christian Belk (6-2, 180). Stephens and Belk have plenty of weapons back, including his favorite target from the past two seasons, fellow senior Jaden Simcox (6-2, 175), who led the team in receiving with 824 yards and 10 touchdowns a year ago. He is a true big-play threat — averaging 25 yards per reception over the last two seasons. Simcox also made his way into the PA records books last season, passing Scott Wynne (38 in 2002) with 41 receptions. He also set the single-season mark for yards with 824. Others expected to make plays on the outside are seniors Jack Reichle (6-1, 175), Alex Lindsey (5-11, 170) and Hagan Wilson (61, 165) along with juniors Matthew Jefcoat (5-11, 155) and Gavin Lessley (5-11, 160) and sophomore John Houston Ferguson (5-9, 140). Senior Jordan Sykes (5-11, 165) and Juan Carlos Hernandez (5-6, 130) will also provide depth at wide receiver. “We’re excited about this group; we have a lot of guys we can spread the ball around to,” McCarty said. At running back, look for the Mustangs to use three juniors to
carry the load — Eli Simmons (511, 185), Alex Tanksley (5-9, 180) and Bryce Miller (5-9, 185). Miller is the fastest of the bunch (second place in the 100-meter run in the State AAAA Division II meet in the spring). At fullback, seniors Ethan Clark (6-1, 185) and Jacob Bush (6-1, 200) will see time along with junior Lawes McCool (5-9, 185). Up front, the Mustangs have some beef. It’s one of the largest lines the program has put on the field in McCarty’s tenure at PA, with an average size of 6 feet, 3 inches and 262 pounds. The unit is achored by senior center Wade Smith (6-2, 245), a second-team all-conference performer a year ago. He and Noah Woodard (6-2, 260) and Hunter Taylor (6-2, 285) are all three-year starters. Junior Frazier Rose is the giant up front at 6-7,. 310. Ross Carpenter, a 6-2, 225pound senior, rounds out the starting five. Juniors Jackson Hodges (6-1, 185) and Dylan Phillips (5-11, 185) and sophomore Billy Perry (5-10, 170) are working to provide depth on the line. When and if the Mustangs use a tight end, look for juniors AJ Reaves (6-1, 170) and Michael Jefcoat (6-0, 195) to get involved. abcbkpb
The Mustangs must make strides on this side of the ball for sure. They couldn’t get off the field last season when it mattered most, allowing a league-high 22.5 points per contest. It helps to return a lot of speed and experience on that side of the ball. “We’re going to fly around and swarm to the ball,” McCarty said. “This group will be active for sure.” The line is led by junior Gage Gammill, a bull of a nose guard at 6-2, 270. Joining him up front at one of the end positions is senior Josh Moor (6-4, 215). Senior Jon Floyd Dunn (6-0, 200) and Clark are also in the mix. The defense is led by a scrapy linebacker corps, led by senior Sam Harris. The 5-9, 175-pound diminutive dynamo has led the Mustangs in tackles for two straight seasons — recording 106 total. McCool and senior Seth Hollis (5-9, 205) are back from solid outings in 2018, ranking second and third, respectively, in tackles a year ago. Bush, Simmons and junior Nolan Marshall (6-0, 190) are playing the bandit position, a form of hybrid linebacker. “Those guys play physical and down hill,” McCarty said of his
linebackers. On the back end, Belk returns at the rover position. Lessley, Wilson and Lindsey will play cornerback. Reichle will get the nod at free safety, with sophomore Nelson Hodges (5-10, 160) backing him up. Sophomores Walker Wood and Britt Reichle are working along the defensive front. kbt=ib^drb Returning 11 starters from a third-straight state title team, Lamar enters the season as the favorite to win the MAIS Class 5A state championship. Class 5A is now most of the schools that competed in Class AAAA, Division II and Class AAA last year. The Mustangs move from a three-team league the last several years to a six-member division that includes archrival Washington School, Bayou, Magnolia Heights, Starkville and Heritage. MAIS Class 5A is divided into three districts. District 2-5A includes Lamar as well as Leake Academy, Hartfield Academy, East Rankin Academy, Simpson Academy and Park Place Christian Academy. District 3-5A includes Adams County Christian School, Central Hinds Academy, Copiah Academy, Silliman Institute and St. Aloysius. Count McCarty as a fan of the new realignment. “For sure, I like the new alignment that was created this past offseason. More teams in our classification has been due for a long time,” McCarty said. “Whoever can win it now will for sure have to pass several tests to get it done.” n `çåí~Åí= _áää= _ìêêìë= ~í= RUNJ TOPT= çê= ÄÄìêêìë]ÖïÅçããçåJ ïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK
with a state championship on top. “Our team has its sights set on a state championship, and across the board we are willing to work toward whatever team and individual goals will take us there. Everyone wants to improve from their performance last year, including me,” he said. “Hopefully, cutting down on turnovers this year will give our offense more opportunities to show off everything we’ve been working on in the offseason and give the fans a few more touchdowns to cheer about.” Pillow head man Tripp McCarty said Stephens is aware of the possibility to set more passing marks, “but I know for a fact that isn't what drives him to be better. He, like the rest of this senior class, wants a ring.” McCarty said Stephens has
worked hard in Mike Beagle’s workout program to shape himself into what a high school quarterback is supposed to look like. Since Stephens the start of his sophomore campaign, Stephens has added 25 pounds of muscle. “Coach Beagle does a great job of giving us quality workout routines to build muscle and stay in shape. He knows what it takes to get bigger and better,” said Stephens. It also helps to have a quarterback coach, McCarty, who has more than 20 years of knowledge coaching the position, and Stephens understands that.
Stephens was in the seventh grade when McCarty first arrived from Brookhaven and has been learning the position from him from Day 1. “Coach McCarty has been an amazing coach and mentor. I am lucky to have had someone teaching me the right form since seventh grade. That makes a huge difference making the throws the team needs. Even more than footwork and form though, being able to pick his brain and learn how to play the quarterback position as a whole is what I am most thankful for,” Stephens said. “Every practice I try to learn from him and hopefully give him the confidence that during game situations he knows I am thinking the same thing he is.” McCarty is more than pleased with Stephens’ progress at the
position, but he is looking for even more from him as a senior. “Shane has been working on mastering the craft of being a quarterback. The past few years his strength has improved greatly. He works his tail off in the weight room and that has been a huge plus for his development,” the Pillow head man said. What McCarty likes most about his signal caller is that he can beat you in different ways — with his feet, his arm and his brain. The coach calls Stephens a “very cerebral” quarterback. The young man carries better than a 4.0 GPA entering his final school year and already has a score of 31 on the ACT. Even though he had the breakout junior season and looked good ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------pÉÉ SENIORI=m~ÖÉ=R
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Record-breaking signal caller back for senior year By BILL BURRUS péçêíë=bÇáíçê
Shane Houston Stephens had a record-setting season in 2018 and brought home the North AAAA Division II MVP. The strong-armed quarterback set several single-season marks at Pillow Academy — most attempts (297), most completions (172) and passing yards (2,396). He also ran for 309 yards and four touchdowns and tied the school record for touchdown passes in a season with 17. Stephens, if he stays healthy, will likely break the school record for career passing yards. He needs 1,085 yards to break Stewart Patridge’s 4,655. The 6-foot-2, 196-pounder would love to see more records fall in 2019 — as long as they come
PageQ Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 PageR cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
That’s the approach for the Bulldogs in 2019 By BILL BURRUS péçêíë=bÇáíçê
Greenwood High School’s mantra for 2019 is “unfinished business.” A year ago, the Bulldogs were just a couple of plays away from playing in their first state title matchup since 1988. Instead, GHS walked off a 17-14 loser in the North 4A finals to eventual state champion Louisville, which went on to defeat Poplarville 2520. “Anything short of playing for a state championship will be a letdown,” Greenwood coach Clinton Gatewood said. “That’s what it’s all about for this bunch. They are busting their tails to get over the hump.” The Bulldogs’ quest for a ring begins Friday at home against cross-county rival Leflore County High School. Gatewood has built a consistent winning program at GHS, where he is 89-32 in his first nine seasons. The Dogs have won six straight Region 3-4A crowns and seven total in Gatewood’s nine years on the job. But the Bulldog boss said his program is still clawing to get to the top of the mountain in 4A. “Even though we are fighting for respect across the state every year, we are proud of what’s happening here,” Gatewood said. “But with that said, it’s important for us to take that next step.” Greenwood has been one victory shy of the state title game in three of the last five years. So it’s easy to see where the Bulldogs came up with the 2019 slogan. Gatewood enters his 10th season at Greenwood feeling quite blessed, and not just because of what is happening on the field. Some coaches and members of the team were involved in a bus wreck on June 17. Gatewood was driving when the bus crashed
`çåíáåìÉÇ=Ñêçã=m~ÖÉ=P ------------------------------------------------------------------in some summer camps, McCarty said college recruiters aren’t beating down his door for tape on the quarterback. If that doesn’t change, the Mustang coach said some schools are going to miss out. “Shane leads by example. He searches for extra work and I can’t think of anytime in the past five years that I have ever had to question his effort or accountability,” he said. While Stephens wants to play at the next level, he said his focus remains on closing out his career with a ring. “I would love to have the opportunity to play in college, but right now I am just focused on improving each day and doing my job my last year at Pillow.” Stephens and the Mustangs open the season Friday at home against Jackson Academy. n `çåí~Åí=_áää=_ìêêìë=~í=RUNJ TOPT= çê= ÄÄìêêìë]ÖïÅçããçåJ ïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK= cçääçï= çå= qïáíJ íÉêW]_áää|_ìêêìëK
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and fell onto its side on U.S. 82 in Carroll County as the team was coming back from a football camp in Starkville. The GHS head man said the near tragedy brought a lot of things into focus and brought his players closer together. “God was watching over us. We are all truly blessed,” he said. “I feel like all of this has brought us closer together as a team.” The Bulldog defense took the biggest hit in the offseason, losing six starters to graduation — so Gatewood hopes his talented offense — led by seasoned players at wide receiver and along the line — can carry the load in the first few games while the defense jells. lccbkpb Promising sophomore quarterback DeAndre Smith, a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder, passed for 1,667 yards with 17 touchdowns last season as a freshman. A lot of his top targets are back in running back Jamarion Addison and a pair of ever-dangerous receivers in Kobe Chambers (5-9, 180) and Daylin Metcalf (6-0, 195). Smith is the second signal caller Gatewood has had to start as a ninth-grader, with the first being Kwadra Griggs who went on to play at Itawamba Community College and Southern Mississippi. Griggs holds the school’s career passing record with nearly
7,000 yards. If Smith stays healthy, Gatewood believes his current quarterback will make a run at Griggs’ mark, but for now, all eyes are on the 2019 season. Chambers has led the Dogs in receiving yardage in each of the last three seasons, with his catch total going up each year as well. In three years, the speedster has 82 catches for 1,725 yards — an average of 21 yards per reception — and 19 touchdowns. Metcalf caught 35 passes for 701 yards and five TDs in 2018. Others who could make plays at receiver are sophomore Brandon Shaffer (5-9, 155) and seniors Zachary Westbrook (6-3, 185) and Warren Smith Jr. (5-11, 160). Senior Quanterius Silas (6-3, 240) gives the Bulldogs a big target at tight end or receiver, while junior Cedrell Barksdale (6-0, 180) adds depth out wide. Gatewood refers to this group as “special.” But for GHS, it will all start up front. Gatewood is counting on a mature and physical line to keep Smith clean in the pocket. Size up front won’t be an issue as the staring five averages 6 feet, 2 inches and 272 pounds. Seniors Marshakie Applewhite (6-3, 300), Malik Sanders (6-2, 270), Edward Anderson (6-0, 220) and Braidon Hodo (6-3, 285) are all back. Sophomore Jaylen Smith (6-1, 285) rounds out the unit. Expect juniors Octavious Mayes (6-0, 265) and Calvin Fletcher (6-4, 265), freshman Jorden Gatewood (6-0, 220) and sophomore Darrion Brown (6-5, 275) to help block as well. That unit will also be relied on to open up holes for a bevy of running backs, including Addison (59, 180), who takes over for Walter Ivory Jr., who was the team’s workhorse the last couple of seasons. Ivory has moved on to play at Holmes Community College, but
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the GHS coach says the cupboard is far from empty. “Everyone knows we lost a horse in Ivory, but we’ve got a pretty good pony to ride in Addison,” said the Greenwood coach. “We feel good about a lot of our backs; we will be able to keep fresh legs in the game in the fourth quarter.” Others expected to get some carries out of the backfield are seniors Tyler Pitts (5-10, 220) and Travor Randle (6-0, 195) and junior Deonte Johnson (5-10, 185). abcbkpb “We lost a lot of go-getters on that side of the ball,” Gatewood said. GHS defensive coordinator Jimmy Stanford will have to break in three new linebackers in the Bulldogs’ 4-3 attack, but one of the newcomers to the position started at end last season — sophomore Davin Anderson (6-3, 230). Anderson was credited with
117 tackles and 22 sacks last year, and it also helps to have both big guys up front back in seniors Jaylen Blake (5-10, 265) and Quontavious Lymon (6-3, 285). Others to be counted on in the trenches are ends Wardell Hurt (6-2, 250), a senior, and Amanda Elzy transfer William Stewart, a 6-2, 210-pound sophomore. The other linebackers are junior Tyler Beckworth (6-0, 215) and sophomore Altoryian Sandifer (6-1, 220). Junior Robert Leflore (6-1, 200) will also be in the mix there. In the secondary, Randall is back at cornerback, as well as junior free safety Omar Emmons (5-10, 185). Randall led the team with six interceptions in 2018. Sophomore Jaterrious Elam (62, 175) will be at corner opposite Randall, and junior Zavian Shelby (6-2, 190) will be a strong safety. n `çåí~Åí= _áää= _ìêêìë= ~í= RUNJ TOPT= çê= ÄÄìêêìë]ÖïÅçããçåJ ïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK
Diminutive stature no hinderance here
By BILL BURRUS péçêíë=bÇáíçê
Kobe Chambers has never listened to the naysayers. The 5-9, 180-pound Greenwood High School senior has never let his diminutive stature keep him off the gridiron. “Hey, people are always going to talk, but I know what’s inside me — you can’t measure that,” Chambers said. Chambers has been making big plays from the first day he stepped on the practice field as a freshman. It took him just three games to find the end zone for the first time in his varsity career. He has played a variety of positions for the Bulldogs — quarterback, running back, slot back, wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner. And he has still managed to lead the team in receiving the last three years (82 catches, 1,725 yards — an average of 21 yards per reception, and 19 touchdowns). GHS coach Clinton Gatewood remembers the first time — scoring on an 80-yard kick return and later adding a 21-yard
touchdown catch. The speedy Chambers has scored at least one touchdown from each of those six positions during his first three years Chambers as a Bulldog. To go with his 19 scoring receptions, Chambers has three passing TDs, four rushing, three on kickoffs and three on punt returns for a total of 29 touchdowns. “He is a kid who has gotten better each year. I have a lot of respect for the way he plays at his size — a small kid who plays big,” Gatewood said. “He has never listened to the doubters.” This year Chambers is hoping to be more involved in the overall offensive scheme, not just at receiver. He hopes to build on his 10 carries for 166 yards and three TDs from last season. “When you have a guy like Kobe, fast and elusive in the open field, you have to find more ways to get him the ball,” Gatewood said.
Opponents quickly learned to try and avoid kicking to Chambers. He had 19 kickoff returns as a ninth-grader for 759 yards and a pair of scores. In three years, he has amassed 1,679 yards on 69 kickoff returns, but his opportunities dropped off last year when teams began trying to keep the ball out of his hands. He had 33 kickoff returns in 2017 and only 17 a year ago. His punt returns were cut in half also on punts (36-900 in 2017, 14-318 in 2018). “Kobe is a natural in the return game. He has sure hands, great moves and speed to burn,” Gatewood said. Chambers said he has worked in the offseason to become a better overall offensive player, working particularly hard in improving his blocking on the edge. He also hopes to find the end zone on more returns during his senior campaign. “That’s a lot of fun there — if they will kick to me this year,” said the Greenwood senior. Chambers has been a starter since he joined the team as a freshman at GHS, where he was following in the footsteps of his
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older brother, Booker T. Chambers, who just finished up an impressive four-year college career at nearby Mississippi Valley State. “My brother just told me going into it to make my own legacy, and that’s what I have set out to do from the first day,” Kobe said. “I would like to get that ring, though, that my brother missed out on. That’s how I want to cap what I hope is a special season.” n `çåí~Åí=_áää=_ìêêìë=~í=RUNJ TOPT= çê= ÄÄìêêìë]ÖïÅçããçåJ ïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK
PageS Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
Veteran coach wrapping up 40-year career after 2019
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By CALVIN STEVENS péçêíë=têáíÉê
The 2019 season will mark 40 years on the sidelines for Sheldon Hodge coaching and teaching young athletes. Hodge, who started his career in 1979 at Florida A&M and has also coached at Mississippi Valley State along with numerous high schools, has announced this will be his last season as a head coach. He and his wife, Miranda, are retiring at the same time. Hodge, who is entering his third season at the helm of the Amanda Elzy football team, hinted that last year may be his last, but one factor led to that change of mind. “ W h a t changed my mind was my wife saying she Hodge was going to retire after this year as well. I didn’t want to be sitting around the house by myself,” said Hodge. “She teaches health and physical education at Threadgill. This way we can both retire at the same time. If we want to up and take off somewhere, we can do that now.” Another factor that brought Hodge back was this year’s team. After going 0-11 in his first season at Elzy, The Panthers were much more competitive and finished 5-7 with a first-round 3A playoff loss to North Panola. “We did well last year, but I feel like we can make even greater strides this year. We are playing a very competitive football schedule. It’s one of the
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most challenging schedules in Elzy history as far as playoffcaliber teams. We play Simmons, O’Bannon, South Delta, Greenwood and Winona. Those were playoff teams last season. We are playing excellent competition from top to bottom,” Hodge said. “This is the type of schedule competitive people don’t want to pass up. “I also had some people in administration, coaches and kids who wanted me to give it one more year. I’m excited about this season. I feel like we can win eight or nine games in the regular season. The work ethic has been tremendous this summer, and we are a closer unit than we were last season. This team is hungry to bring the winning ways back to Elzy. We are preaching pride and playing for this school and the program.” Hodge credits the players for the changes taking place. “Their mental turnaround has been just as important as the W’s and L’s. They have bought into hard work and unselfishness. They are out here doing this for each other,”
Hodge added. “The 38 to 40 kids we have out here have made a commitment to winning and putting this program on a solid foundation.” The Panthers remained in Class 3A after reclassification was done and will still be in Region 3 with a few new faces. Humphreys County and Ruleville remained in Region 3 with Elzy. Those three are joined by Coahoma AHS and Winona High School. Elzy opens its 2019 season Friday at Simmons. Hodge will be joined on the sidelines this fall by Morris Bush, who will serve as offensive coordinator, Henry Fant III, Michael Curry, Anthony Williams and Lanelle Bush. Richard Quon will be a volunteer coach. lccbkpb Hodge said the offense for Elzy starts in the backfield with senior tailback Dephabian Fant. As a junior, the All-Commonwealth selection ran for 1,213 yards and 12 touchdowns on 133 carries. He also had two kickoff returns for scores and scored twice on receptions. “He did a good job for us last season, but we plan on getting a lot more mileage out of him this season,” said Hodge. Joining Fant in the backfield is senior fullback Howard Whitehead. Also vying for time in the backfield are sophomores Ladarius Davenport and Jakobe Smith. Hodge has two young men working at quarterback in senior Braxton Lewis and junior Deontae Neal. Lewis is a transfer from Delta Streets Academy and Neal played a good bit last season at the position.
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“One way or the other, they will both be on the field. They are two good athletes,” he said. The receiving corps is spearheaded by senior Smitdarius Wright, who made the 2018 AllCommonwealth team as a cornerback. Joining Wright at receiver are senior Greg Childress, junior Kyris Jones and sophomore Anthony Brownlee. Senior Javoris Jackson, junior Charlie Ivory and Lewis are working at tight end. Working across the line are senior Artravious Gillis, juniors Tim Wilson, Freddricus Ferguson and La’Andre Pittman, sophomore Ja’Querian Stevenson, freshman Zelmon Ware and eighth-grader Jemichael Reed. abcbkpb Wilson and Pittman, two returning starters, highlight the defense at linebacker. Junior Stephen Banks is also working at the position. Ivory, Lewis, senior Donell Whitfield and senior Jaquaveous Swims will be on the line. Wright and sophomore Terry Randle, both returning starters, will be at strong and free safety, respectively. Freshman Ladarius Ghoston and Smith are at cornerback. Ghoston started as an eighth-grader. n `çåí~Åí=`~äîáå=píÉîÉåë=~í ÅëíÉîÉåë]ÖïÅçããçåïÉ~äíÜKÅç ãK
Jaguars hoping for better luck gKwK=dblodb
By CALVIN STEVENS péçêíë=têáíÉê
NORTH CARROLLTON — In 2018, Ben Burton took his team to play in a scrimmage game against Eupora the week before the season opener. After what happened during the game to his starting quarterback, there was no way Burton was playing the week before the opener this season. Montavis Jenkins, better known as “Hulk”, was under center for the Jaguars last season. Expectations were high. Jenkins was a bruising runner the year before in the backfield. However, on one play early in the second half, he was tackled by several Eupora defenders and his right knee buckled on him. Surgery was required and he was done for the season. That one injury changed the entire landscape of the J.Z. George team for the 2018 season. “So many saw Hulk as untouchable. He was the leader of last year’s team. When he went down, it affected the entire team. We had very little leadership. It got embarrassing at times,” said Burton, who is in his sixth year at the helm of the J.Z. George football program. The Jaguars suffered through an 0-11 campaign last season. They opened with a pair of close losses to Class 1A teams Okolona (19-14) and Noxapater (26-18). However, it started going downhill from there.
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J.Z. George, which was in Class 3A the last two years but was dropped to 2A after reclassification, gave up 41, 30, 36 and 43 points the next four weeks to Water Valley, Union, Holly Springs and East Webster. They started Region 3-3A play at home against Ruleville and battled in a 29-14 setback. Charleston and Ruleville blanked the Jags 50-0 and 20-0, respectively, the next two weeks. J.Z. George closed with losses of 48-8 to Yazoo County and 24-6 to Amanda Elzy. The Jaguars are looking to right the ship this season. Senior Keyshawn Daniels, who plays middle linebacker, is one who believes it can be done.
“We’ve had a couple of bad years, but we are all wanting to change that. We know we are a better football team than what we showed last year,” said Daniels. J.Z. George, which opens its 2019 season Friday night at home against McAdams, rejoins Region 2-2A after a four-year absence. They will face East Webster, Calhoun City, Bruce and Eupora in league games, which start Oct. 11 at East Webster. “We haven’t been very competitive with these teams much in the past. There won’t be much sexy about what we will try and do against these teams,” said Burton. “Our kids have to understand they have to believe in themselves and execute the game plan.” Members of Burton’s coaching staff are Douglas Butts, Doyle Ellett, Kendrick Williams and Michael Ellingburg. lccbkpb When Jenkins went down last season, freshman Jordun Normal was inserted into the starting quarterback role. He didn’t have the same size as Jenkins (5-10, 235), so Burton had to make changes in a hurry. “We’re still going to do some of the same things this season we did last year with Jordun. The year of experience is going to help him. There are still things he needs to work on as far as footwork and timing with his receivers,” said Burton of the 6-foot, 160pound sophomore. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------pÉÉ GEORGEI=m~ÖÉ=T
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Fant follows in his dad’s footsteps
By CALVIN STEVENS péçêíë=têáíÉê
Dephabian Fant may only stand 5foot-5 and weigh 160 pounds, but he has the heart of a lion. “Where some people see my size as a weakness, I see it as a positive. I think it’s one of my strengths. I might not be as fast if I was bigger,” said Fant, who is a senior for the Amanda Elzy football team. “I’ve been timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. There are areas I know I need to improve in, such as route running. I worked at receiver in some camps this summer. It’s been a busy summer with the camps, working out and working a job.” If Fant’s name rings a bell, it’s because of his family ties to Elzy. His dad, Henry Fant III, played quarterback and is currently on staff at the school. He graduated in May 2001 and played on the football team from 19972000. He serves as the junior high head coach and coaches running backs for the varsity team. Fant’s grandfather, Henry Fant II, served as head coach of the Panthers from 1988-2008. He started as a junior high football and basketball assistant, and he started coaching high school football and basketball in 1975 as an assistant. “It has motivated me to do well. I want to take Amanda Elzy to a different level. Both my grandfather and dad stress to me to buckle down and stay focused. I’ve worked hard this summer, but I know it’s going to take a team effort, and we’ve got to be on the same page to get the job done,” Fant said. Fant has primarily played running and returned kicks and punts for the Panthers. He will also play some free safety, and could line up at wide receiver, a position he worked on at various summer camps. He attended camps at Southern Mississippi, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Mississippi Valley State, Memphis and Alabama. Most of the camps were a one-day outing, but his trip to Tuscaloosa was an overnight stay. He, along with other campers, stayed in dorms. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------pÉÉ FANTI=m~ÖÉ=T
House’s Tigers ready to roar
Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 PageT cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
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By CALVIN STEVENS péçêíë=têáíÉê
Eric House has never been at a loss for coming up with special sayings as his teams embark on a new season. House, who enters his fourth season at the helm of the Leflore County High School football team, has been stressing to his players P.W.P. — practice with purpose. “We want the kids to understand that we need their best effort not only during a game but on the practice field as well,” said House, who guided the Tigers to a 5-7 mark in 2018. “No matter what drill we are doing in practice, we don’t want them to just go through the motions. We want there to be purpose in everything we do. And that goes for the coaches as well. We want to get better at what we’re teaching these kids to do.” Leflore has gone through a few changes since last season. The school was reclassified to 1A status after spending most of its time in Class 2A. The Tigers, who were just 1-2 in Region 2-2A last season, will be in a nine-team district for the next two years with West Bolivar, Shaw, McAdams, West Tallahatchie, Simmons, Coffeeville, Ray Brooks and Ethel. Also, House had to replace several assistant coaches. Tavares Gideon is a holdover from last season and he will serve as defensive coordinator. Ernest Williams Jr. will coach the quarterbacks, and Freddie Davis will coach linebackers and also does strength and conditioning. Michael Higgins, a former Greenwood High standout and Mississippi Valley State safety, is on staff and coaches the secondary.
`çåíáåìÉÇ=Ñêçã=m~ÖÉ=S --------------------------------------------------------------------“The atmosphere at Alabama is so good. You can tell everything they do is about winning. I met Coach Charles Huff, and I got my picture with Coach (Nick) Saban. I could see myself playing there,” Fant said. Fant was a member of the Region 3 all-district team last season, as well as a member of the 2018 All-Commonwealth team. He also made that team in 2017 as a sophomore defensive back.
`çåíáåìÉÇ=Ñêçã=m~ÖÉ=S -------------------------------------------------------------------“I’m coaching the quarterbacks this season. I want him to be comfortable but get out of his comfort zone if that makes sense. He throws the ball well when he rolls to his right, but we want him to roll to his left and be able to throw the ball as well. As he matures and continues to work hard, I think he can handle playing this position. We’ve got a lot of confidence in Jordun.” Burton has high hopes for production in the ground game with sophomore Deriaun Townsend and fullback Jacob Johnson lead-
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Leflore, which played in a jamboree at Simmons Friday, opens its 2019 campaign at Greenwood High School, a team it lost to 44-0 in 2018. The following week, the Tigers play at Amanda Elzy on Aug. 30. After an open date on Sept. 6, Leflore plays eight straight region contests. “We look at the Greenwood game as a pre-test. The Elzy is always going to be competitive for both teams. We’re Class 1A now, and we open the season playing one of the better 4A teams and a 3A team in Elzy Our kids will get to play at a high level before we start district play,” House said. “We’re playing two teams who made the playoffs last year, and both of them are rivalry games. “I was very pleased with the work ethic and enthusiasm this team has shown since the spring game. They started to believe then in themselves, and the mindset of this team is to elevate us to a top-tier program. It’s going to take hard work and dedication to get there. I explained to the seniors on this team to have no
regrets. I want them to give everything they’ve got in practice and in games.” lccbkpb The Tigers will have their No. 1 quarterback under center again this fall in senior Maurice Edwards, who is 6foot and weighs 280 pounds. “Don’t let his size fool you. Maurice is very athletic. He plays basketball and baseball as well. He’s a powerful runner, and he’s working hard at being a better passer. He reads defenses well, and he’s able to make good decisions for us,” House said. “He suffered a high ankle sprain against Greenwood last season on the third play of the game, and he had to battle that injury all season. We’re expecting Maurice to lead us this season.” Backing Edwards up is sophomore Dequarionne Jones, a 6-foot-3, 170-pounder. “We went to Coahoma during the summer for a 7-on-7 camp and he led us to a championship. The kids have a lot of confidence in Dequarionne,” House added. House has moved senior Emanuel Stanley from offensive guard to running back. Stanley is 5-foot-10, 225 pounds. He played in the backfield during the spring game. Also working at running back are sophomore Ivory Lampkin Jr. (5-8, 205), junior Jaylen Lister (5-9, 165) and freshman Dezmond Ray (5-9, 155). The wide receiver corps is spearheaded by senior Derrick Singleton (6-3, 205), Jones, junior Kerric Ross (5-6, 145) and sophomore Dekari Johnson (5-6, 140). Senior Kwalique Swinney (6-0, 205) is the featured tight end. He is backed up by sophomores Damarius
Last season, he rushed for a team-high 1,213 yards and 12 touchdowns on 133 carries (9.1 yards per carry). He only had five receptions for 151 yards, but scored two touchdowns. He tacked on five 2-point conversion runs and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. That’s a total of 106 points he scored for the Panthers last season as they went 57 and lost 55-14 to North Panola in the first round of the North 3A playoffs. He opened the 2018 season with a 215-yard, one-TD performance against Leland. He also had an 87-yard kickoff return for a score. Against Yazoo County in the ninth game on the schedule,
ing the way. Townsend is 5-foot-9 and weighs 205 pounds, while Johnson is 6-foot and weighs 180. “Deriaun is something to get excited about. We feel like he is really going to be a special player the next three years. He has a sense of confidence about himself. I want him to be the guy who says give me the football,” said Burton. “People look up to him already because of his work ethic. If he stays healthy, he will carry the load for us. “Jacob Johnson will hit you. It’s that simple. He plays linebacker as well. The reason he’s at fullback is I know he’s not going to back down from contact. I talked to him a good bit about proper nutrition and putting the extra
Leflore (6-1, 190) and Zabian Mitchell (5-10, 165). “Swinney probably has the best hands on the team. He’s solid. Derrick and Dequarionne are both 6-3 and can stretch defenses. Ross and Johnson are our speed guys. They have shown mental toughness,” House said. The offensive line should be solid for the Tigers. Senior Charles Davis (5-8, 210) anchors the line at center. Junior Kevin Ervin (5-10, 278) and senior Kendarius Moore (6-1, 280) will play left guard and left tackle, respectively. Senior Cameron Swinney (6-2, 240) and junior Edgar Swims (5-10, 240) are at right tackle and right guard. Others in the mix are juniors Tyler Anderson (6-0, 220) and Jyrius Smiley (6-1, 249) and sophomore Tavarian Dean (58, 210). Sophomore Javorius Sherrod (6-2, 235) is handling the punting duties. abcbkpb Several offensive players will likely play on the defensive side. Edwards, senior Masunte Haggie (5-8, 215), Cameron Swinney and Sherrod will play tackle, while Kwalique Swinney and Leflore will play on the end. Stanley will be at outside linebacker. Lampkin, junior Demario Coleman (5-11, 190) and freshman JT Cross (6-0, 170) will also play linebacker. Singleton, junior Khirous Dixon (5-7, 155) and freshman Dante Kelly (6-2, 180) are working at safety, and Lister, junior Jacolby Smith (5-8, 155) sophomore Mel’Traveone Kelly (6-0, 160), Ray, junior D’wayne Dixon (5-8, 140) and freshman Draper Aldridge Jr. (5-7, 135) are working at cornerback.
he rushed for 192 yards on 16 carries and scored two times. He tacked on two kickoff returns for 147 yards and a touchdown. As a sophomore, Fant gained 789 yards and scored seven touchdowns on 107 carries. He had 15 kickoff returns for 425 yards. His season was interrupted by a knee injury. In limited action as a freshman, Fant picked up 92 yards and scored one TD on 11 carries. Fant and the Panthers open their 2019 campaign Friday at Simmons High School. “We have a lot of young guys who are ready to play. I believe we are physically strong. We just have to get mentally strong. More
time in the weight room. He has worked hard this summer. He’s a good bit stronger.” Others who could see time in the backfield are Daniels at either quarterback or fullback, and senior Quenterius Purnell at running back. Seniors Malik Branch, Antwon Granderson, PJ Archie and Trey Carthon are working at wide receiver. Purnell will also line up at receiver. The offensive line will be anchored by junior Nathan Carpenter at center. He started every game on the line last season. Seniors Will Turner and Jamarcus Williams and sophomore Alan Busby are vying for starting roles at guard, and juniors Wil’Tavious Williams and
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Leflore senior makes switch
By CALVIN STEVENS péçêíë=têáíÉê
Leflore County head coach Eric House went to Emanuel Stanley in the spring and asked him if he’d be willing to make a position move that would be beneficial to the team. His answer was simply yes. “I put the team first. Coach felt like he needed me in the backfield, and we had other guys coming in who could play on the offensive line. It will be my first time to ever play running back, but my mindset is the same as when I played on the line. If you are in front of me, you are in my way,” said Stanley Stanley, a 5-foot-11, 230pound senior for the Tigers. Stanley played guard and linebacker for Leflore last season as the Tigers went 5-7 overall and lost 46-18 to South Delta in the first round of the playoffs. He will still play linebacker on defense this fall. “I didn’t live up to my expectations in the -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------pÉÉ STANLEYI=m~ÖÉ=NO
guys have come out for the team this year. We need to come together and put the team first,” added Fant. Sheldon Hodge, who enters his third year at the helm of the Panther football program, knows he has a gem in Fant. “He’s one of our top returning players. He has provided outstanding leadership the last two years, and we’re expecting a little more this season. He’s a worker. He has worked a job this summer, and when he gets off, he comes straight to conditioning and weight training,” said Hodge. “He gets his work ethic from his dad and grandfather. It says a lot about his family and his upbring-
Josh Newman are working at tackle. Others who could be plugged in on the line are senior Cory Clay and juniors Preston Clardy and RJ Griffin. Working at tight end are Daniels and sophomore Jadarius Fluker. abcbkpb Daniels, who is starting for the third straight season, and Wil’Tavious Williams are at inside linebacker. Freshman Brandon McKenzie could also get some playing time. Johnson, Purnell and junior Thomas Perry are at outside linebacker, while Normal, Townsend, Branch, Archie, and sophomores James Journey and Deraivan Seals are in the secondary. The line has Clardy, Clay and
ing. I just wish I had six or seven more like him.” Fant is also an outstanding baseball player. He’s made the All-Commonwealth baseball team since he was in the eighth grade. “I like both sports, and I would probably play baseball first if I got the opportunity. I’ve played shortstop the last two years, and I’ve also played second base,” said Fant. “My little brother (Braylon) is the reason I work so hard. He’s 8 years old, and he looks up to me. He’s going to be a good baseball player. He’s annoying, but he’s fun to have around.” n `çåí~Åí= `~äîáå= píÉîÉåë= ~í ÅëíÉîÉåë]ÖïÅçããçåïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK g^dr^op
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Griffin at tackle, while senior Quintray Gaines, Jemarcus Williams and Carpenter are working at defensive end. n `çåí~Åí= `~äîáå= píÉîÉåë= ~í ÅëíÉîÉåë]ÖïÅçããçåïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK
PageU Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
Milton’s agenda still the same for Rebels
Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 PageV cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
By CALVIN STEVENS péçêíë=têáíÉê
CARROLLTON — When Bo Milton accepted the position of head football coach at Carroll Academy five years ago, he had one plan in mind. “The goal I set was for Carroll Academy to be competitive and relevant. I want the teams we face to know they have to get prepared for us. I want them to practice for us and not just Milton expect it to be a win on their schedule,” said Milton, who is 19-24 in his first four seasons in Carrollton. “It helps that we have had good kids the last four years. You’ve got to have some Jimmy’s and Joe’s. It’s not always about the X’s and O’s. Having good kids always helps.” Last season, Carroll put together a 7-4 campaign and a 3-1 record in District 1-AA. The Rebels made it to the first round of the State 2A playoffs, losing 4014 to Centreville Academy. Milton has guided Carroll to the playoffs the last three seasons. They are 18-15 the last three
years after going 1-9 in his first season in 2015. “I think we have developed a winning attitude. The program is headed in the right direction. We’re not where we need to be just yet. We want to be driven and not satisfied with just making it to the playoffs,” Milton said. “These kids know I expect their best. I get on everybody, but I will put my arm around them and let them know why I got on to them. I’ve figured out a way to motivate in my 28 years of coaching.” Milton is assisted by Tommy Acy and Chad Crowe, who returns after a one-year stint at Newton Academy. He will serve as line coach for the offense and defense. Chris Wilson has served as strength coach for the last three years. “We’ve only got 20 boys out, so that means we need every one of them to contribute. We won’t allow that to be our excuse, though. Football has 77 starting positions when you look at it from offense, defense and special teams. We’ll probably have seven or eight going both ways, but it’s crucial everybody does their part, especially the first three weeks in this heat,” Milton added. “We talk about being the best we can be on every play. We try to focus game to game, play to play.
We have to be better on the next play. We have some good kids out here. They know what it means to say yes sir and no sir. They want to be coached. They are willing to learn. That’s made a big difference in this program.” lccbkpb Milton’s double-wing offense will be directed by senior quarterback Morgan Mims, who started all of last season and six games as a sophomore. Mims, 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, ran for 869 yards and nine touchdowns on 97 carries last season. One of his better outings in 2018 was a 179-yard, two-touchdown performance against conference foe Marshall Academy. The previous week against Oak Hill, he ran for 178 yards and a TD on 11 carries. “Morgan makes our offense go. He has come a long way since his sophomore season,” said Milton. “He has worked hard with his receivers over the summer on his timing. He performed really well during a 7-on-7 camp at LSU.” Mims was 35 of 81 for 618 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions last season. Mims started his sophomore year at slotback, but was moved to quarterback midway through the season. He finished with 422 yards and three touchdowns on
76 carries. He completed 19 of 37 passes for 243 yards with three scores and five picks. Joining Mims in the backfield are juniors Hunter Brackin, Braxton York and John Marc O’Cain. Brackin ran for 757 yards and 10 touchdowns on 126 carries. Senior Logan Taylor returns at split end, while junior Hunter Grantham will be at slotback. Senior Reese Fulton and Grantham will Taylor play tight end. Junior Corbin Walker will also play slotback, and sophomores Drew Thomas and Bryce Collier will see time at receiver. Taylor had 12 receptions for 178 yards and two scores as a junior, and Fulton had 10 catches for 113 yards and three touchdowns. The offensive line has three starters returning. Senior Austin Smith and junior Cooper Beck will be the tackles, and senior Hogan Costilow and junior Hunter Brewer will be the guards. Senior Hunter Huff will play center. abcbkpb
The defense will be under the direction of Acy, who also serves as the head junior high coach. “Coach Acy and I run similar styles for the varsity and junior high teams. His junior high teams have won the last three conference titles, so he has them prepared. They know the fundamentals,” said Milton. The defensive line will be anchored by senior James Neill at nose guard. Junior Christian McCluskey will also see time at the nose. Beck and Smith will play tackle, and Fulton, Brewer and Costilow will line up at linebacker. Brackin and O’Cain will be outside backers or bandits, and Taylor and Mims will line up at cornerback. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------pÉÉ CARROLLI=m~ÖÉ=NM
was under center all of last season plus playing on defense and on special teams. “It was a good season for me last year. I could have improved in some areas. I needed to learn to step out of bounds and not force stuff. That’s usually when I made mistakes,” said Mims. “I spent the summer working on my timing — when to throw Mims the ball and when not to. We attended a 7-on7 camp at LSU and played eight games in one day. They were only 20 minutes long, but we faced some good teams, and it gave me a chance to work with my receivers.” Mims also attended a camp at Henderson State and did drills for defensive backs. He is considered one of the top returning players in the MAIS.
Mims finished his junior campaign with 869 yards rushing and nine touchdowns on 97 carries. In the passing department, he completed 35 of 81 passes for 618 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. As a sophomore, he was 19 of 37 for 243 yards with three TD passes and five picks. He ran 76 times for 422 yards and three touchdowns. As a freshman, he threw one pass, which was returned for a touchdown. “That one pass my freshman year was against Winona Christian in a playoff game, and they returned it for a touchdown. I figured at the time I had nothing to lose. I’ve learned a lot since then,” Mims said. Mims gives Milton a second threat as a runner. Jeb Beck was the bruiser last season, and Mims had the outside speed. He had several big games as a junior. Against Newton, he ran for 123 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries. The next week against
Oak Hill, Mims had 178 yards and a TD on 11 carries, and in Week 8 against Marshall, Mims bulled his way for 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14 carries. He closed the regular season with a 144-yard, 3-TD performance against Central Holmes. “Morgan has played a lot of football for us. He has about 16 or 17 starts at quarterback. We’ve used him at kicker, and he’s one of the best at onside kicks. We probably recover it 75% of the time,” said Milton. “I saw a lot of improvement and growth in Morgan last year. He got a lot better in the passing game. He didn’t throw a lot of interceptions and didn’t try to force the ball as much. He’s really a dual-threat quarterback. I think he will be even better this season. “He doesn’t get rattled and handles me chewing on him. I have high expectations for any quarterback, and he meets those expectations. I think he will be the main cog of our offense. We
have some good players around him so he doesn’t have to make every play.” Mims was an all-conference and all-state selection for the Rebels last season. Mims, who also plays wing on the basketball team and runs on the track team, considers himself one of the leaders of this team. “I kind of have to be a leader as the quarterback. I’m more of the vocal leader as long as I’m out there doing what I know to do.” Mims also plays in the secondary, where he recorded 50 tackles last season. He does the kicking and returns kicks on special teams. His plans after graduation are to attend Holmes Community College in Grenada and then move on to Mississippi State and study mechanical engineering. Mims and his teammates open the season Friday at home against Kirk Academy. n `çåí~Åí= `~äîáå= píÉîÉåë= ~í ÅëíÉîÉåë]ÖïÅçããçåïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK
“We’ve had a couple of bad years, but we are all wanting to change that. We know we are a better football team than what we showed last year.” J.Z. George suffered through an 0-11 campaign in 2018 and went just 2-9 in 2017. J.Z. George was dropped from Class 3A to 2A during reclassification, which meant it ould be joining a new district — Region 2-2A with Calhoun City, Bruce, East Webster and Eupora. “We’re up for the challenge of competing in this district. I know its going to be tough, but if we can come together as a team and do as our coaches instruct us, we can surprise some teams,” added Daniels, who may also see some
time on offense at tight end and fullback. Daniels has been a part of the J.Z. George football team since the eighth grade when he played on the junior high squad. He moved up to the high school team as a freshman, and he became a starter on defense by his sophomore campaign. He had more than 60 tackles as a junior. “Keyshawn is a good young man, and he’s Mr. Versatility for us,” said J.Z. George head coach Ben Burton. “He can play numerous positions for us on offense if we need to plug him in somewhere. I want to keep him on defense, though. He’s a valuable member of our defensive unit. He’s the heart of our defense as a
three-year starter.” Daniels prefers defense but will do whatever it takes to help his team. “I like the contact on defense. I’m not afraid to hit someone. If I have to play on offense to help us win, then I’m ready to go,” said Daniels. “I’ve studied a lot to become a better linebacker. I pay attention to what the guards and fullbacks are going to do on running plays.” Daniels has goals beyond this season. “After I leave high school, my plan is to join the military. I’m applying for the Air Force Academy to study engineering. A lot of my family has served in the military, and I know when you’ve
done that, it carries a lot of weight as far as getting a job. I have no problem serving my country and getting an education at the same time,” Daniels said. Last season’s 0-11 campaign is in the past as far as Daniels is concerned. “You have ups and downs, but it’s how you respond that matters. I learned that no matter what you have to keep going. You have to try hard to become stronger and keep a good mindset,” Daniels added. “For this team, it’s important that we open with a win over McAdams. We need to get off to a good start.” n `çåí~Åí= `~äîáå= píÉîÉåë= ~í ÅëíÉîÉåë]ÖïÅçããçåïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK
n Carroll opens the season Friday at
home against Kirk Academy. Coach: Bo Milton, 5th season, 19-24. Top players: QB Morgan Mims, Sr.; WR Logan Taylor, Sr.; TE Reese Fulton, Sr.; RB Hunter Brackin, Jr. Team strength: Solid returners on offense at numerous positions. Biggest concern: Depth. With only 20 players, all will have to contribute.
Carroll QB working to be complete player By CALVIN STEVENS péçêíë=têáíÉê
CARROLLTON — It’s not that Morgan Mims has a problem with his memory. But he’s learning to be able to play quarterback, you have to have a short memory. “You can’t get overwhelmed in a game. As soon as one play is over, you have to move on to the next play. I’m learning not to listen to what everybody else is saying. I’ve got to listen to what Coach (Bo) Milton is saying and be ready to run the next play,” said Mims, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior quarterback and cornerback for the Carroll Academy Rebels. Mims has steadily climbed the ladder during his days at Carroll. He saw some varsity action as an eighth grader following the junior high season, and then got on the field as a ninth grader. He was a starter at slot receiver as a sophomore before moving to quarterback when starter Colby Holly was moved to running back. He
Daniels can fill many areas for J.Z. George By CALVIN STEVENS péçêíë=têáíÉê
NORTH CARROLLTON — Keyshawn Daniels and his fellow seniors on the J.Z. George football team want to go out with a bang. “We are more dedicated to this season. They (seniors) really want it,” said Daniels Daniels, who is a 5-foot-7, 190-pound linebacker on defense for the Jaguars. They ho open their season Friday night at home against McAdams High School.
PageNM Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
Youngster having to step up as leader abiq^= pqobbqp= ^`^abjv
Lewis expected to play big role for Lions By CALVIN STEVENS péçêíë=têáíÉê
Delta Streets Academy’s football team will not have the luxury of being a senior-laden squad, so the task of leaderLewis ship will likely fall to a group of nine to 10 sophomores. One of those 10th graders is Jalyn Lewis, a 5-foot-10, 185pound running back, wide receiver and linebacker.
Lewis has been at DSA since seventh grade. He was on the junior high team that year and played junior high and some varsity as an eighth grader. He gave the Lions a pretty good one-two punch as a ninth grader as he paired with former quarterback DJ Alston. Alston rushed for 1,786 yards and 30 touchdowns on 132 carries, while Lewis gained 752 yards and scored 11 times on 57 carries. He also caught three passes for 90 yards and two scores and had five 2-point conversion runs. “I thought I was pretty solid at
the beginning of the season, but I fell off some late in the season. It was a good season for me personally, but I know I can get better. I can improve with my footwork. I’m still a young player, and I’m still learning. The sophomores will have to step up this season and lead this team,” said Lewis. T. Mac Howard, who serves as executive director at Delta Streets and will be the head coach of the Lions this fall, likes what he’s seen of Lewis on the field. “Athletically, Jalyn gives us a big boost. How he goes on offense will be how we go as a team,” said Howard. “He is going to be one of
Howard back on sideline By CALVIN STEVENS péçêíë=têáíÉê
T. Mac Howard will be back on the sideline as head football coach when the 2019 season gets started. Howard, the executive director and founder of the school, started the football program in 2012, the first Howard year of existence for Delta Streets. They played junior high only in 2012 and 2013. A varsity team was fielded in 2014, and Howard served as head coach until the 2016 season. James Cheatham, now the principal of the school, was head coach in 2017, and Anthony Degani held the position last season, guiding the Lions to a 5-5 record. He left during the summer for Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis to serve as an assistant football coach and wrestling coach. Delta Streets competes in eight man football. The only season it wasn’t in the eight man league was in 2017. They will be Class 2A and compete in District 2-AA with SharkeyIssaquena, Humphreys Academy and Manchester Academy, which is considered the early favorite to win it all in the classification. “We beat the teams we were supposed to beat last season, and they played some of the
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other teams very tough. It was a good year. It was Coach Degani’s first year to coach football. He had gone to a coaching clinic about 8-man football and was very excited about this season,” said Howard. “He was getting prepared to take us to the next level. It will hurt us from that aspect, but the kids are working hard. “I will probably run some different things than Coach Degani did last season. We don’t have that one weapon like they did last year in DJ Alston, but we do have more athleticism. A lot of freshmen played last season, and we have 10 sophomores on this team. They will get a lot playing time this season. We only have two seniors who have transferred in from West Tallahatchie, and we have just one junior.” The Lions were just 1-3 in
`çåíáåìÉÇ=Ñêçã=m~ÖÉ=V ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------York will play free safety.Others who may see time on the line are sophomores Ty Skelton, Jack Teal and Drew Haddon. afpqof`q One big change for Carroll this season is that it moved up from Class 2A to Class 3A when the MAIS did reclassification of all its schools. The Rebels will be in District 2-3A with Indianola, Central Holmes, Winona Christian and Benton. “This could be a district where all five teams make the playoffs. It’s going to be that strong of a district,” said Milton. “Central Holmes and Winona are going to be good, and we all know Tommy Nester is going to field a competitive team at Indianola.” The Rebels start district play on Sept. 6 at home against Benton. They visit Indianola on
District 2E last season. They beat Kemper Academy 50-48, but lost 70-18 to Humphreys, 52-8 to Manchester and 30-28 to SIA. “Manchester is probably going to be the best team in our classification. We play five non-district games before we play them. Hopefully, we can iron out some wrinkles and be ready for them. We know Humphreys is going to be good, and Sharkey will field a good team. It’s going to be a tough district,” said Howard. Following the season opener on Aug. 23, Delta Streets will play its first-ever game in Leflore County as it will host Columbus Christian on Aug. 30 at Mississippi Valley State. The school does not have a regulation football field and has had to travel to every game since 2012. “We’re very excited that it worked out for us to play at Mississippi Valley. We play home basketball games at their other gym, and we were able to work it out with them to play a home football game,” added Howard. “We’re hoping people will want to come out and watch eight man football that night.” lccbkpb The Lions don’t have the threat at quarterback that Alston gave them last season, but Howard is confident he has several weapons in the arsenal. Alston, an All-Commonwealth selection last season, -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------pÉÉ DSAI=m~ÖÉ=NO
7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 and Winona on Oct. 4, then close out the regular season on Sept. 25 against Central Holmes in Carrollton. n `çåí~Åí=`~äîáå=píÉîÉåë=~í=ÅëíÉîÉåë]ÖïÅçãJ ãçåïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK
Aug. 23 at N. Sunflower 7 p.m. Aug. 30 Columbus Christian at MVSU 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at Hebron Christian 7 p.m. Sept. 13 at Lee Academy 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at DeSoto 7 p.m. Sept. 27 *at Manchester 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at W. Memphis 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at Marvell 7 p.m. Oct. 18 *at Humphreys 7 p.m. Oct. 25 *at Sharkey-Iss. 7 p.m. *-district games
Delta Streets went 5-5 last season under former coach Anthony Degani, who left after one year to accept a position at a school in the Memphis area. Lewis and the Lions open their season Friday at NSA.
Here’s a look at where former Greenwood-area high school football players are now playing in college: John Derrick Smith Chandler Robinson
jfppfppfmmf=s^iibv=pq^qb RB QB
Greenwood Leflore County
Greenwood Leflore County
DL LB DE
Sophomore Sophomore Freshman
Greenwood Greenwood J.Z. George
Greenwood Leflore County
Christian Henderson OL Carldaryl “CJ” Johnson DB
Marquiss Spencer Kwatrivous Johnson Rico Owens Quentarrius Banks Willie Dixon
Jalen Bedell R’Tavius McGee Chris Rias Jakaiszer Glass Carl Jones Walter Ivory Willie McCline Charles Brooks
Kedarius Edwards Damarius Ray
p`ebarib Aug. 23 Kirk Academy Aug. 30 at Hillcrest Christian Sept. 6 *Benton Academy Sept. 13 Tri-County Academy Sept. 20 at Newton Academy Sept. 27 *at Indianola Academy Oct. 4 *at Winona Christian Oct. 11 Oak Hill Academy (HC) Oct. 18 at Tunica School Oct. 25 *Central Holmes GJconference games
the young leaders on this team. I’ve watched him grow since the seventh grade. He still has some work to do, but he’s on the right track. He does well in class as well.” Lewis is confident he can step up and help lead this team to a winning season, and possibly beyond. “Our No. 1 goal is to win a state championship. We’re just like all the teams, we want to win a state title,” said Lewis. “I feel like I can step into DJ’s role and take on the load on offense. The thing with playing eight man to playing 11 man is you can score a lot quicker in eight man. If you have speed and you can get outside, all you have to do is take off for the end zone.”
Tyler Glass Tarren Smith II
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Delta Devils set on pulling off surprise
Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 PageNN cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
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By BILL BURRUS péçêíë=bÇáíçê
Vincent Dancy can’t stomach another losing season. When he was promoted to head coach at Mississippi Valley State, the Greenwood Commonwealth called it “college football’s hardest job.” Dancy didn’t agree with the assesment at the time, but he may have changed his stance a little after his first season, where the Delta Devils went 1-10. It’s a losing trend that was well in place before Dancy ever stepped on campus. Over the last six seasons, Mississippi Valley went 9-57 and hasn’t won more than two games in a season since 2012, when the Delta Devils finished 5-6. The last winning season? It came in 2006. For Dancy and his team, the 2018 campaign is in the past. However, his first season taught him a lot about how to help his team finish games. But to finish strong, Dancy said it starts with having enough depth on the team, allowing players to maintain endurance and strength at the end where it counts. “We could not finish because we did not have enough depth on both sides of the ball,” Dancy said. “It was hard traveling with 58 players to have enough depth in all three phases of the game.” As expected MVSU is picked to finish last in the Eastern Division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference in the league’s preseason poll. But Dancy says his team will surprise some folks this season. “Recruiting has been outstanding, and we’re excited about the program,” Dancy said. “We’re going to shock some people.” With fewer than half of last year’s players returning, the road won’t be easy. But a host of JUCO talents plan to bridge the gap, along with several true freshmen. “It’ll look like we’ll be young,”
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Dancy said. “But with all the transfers, we won’t be. Getting those guys together to play as one will be our biggest thing. There’s a lot of talent, but we need them to buy into our team concept.” lccbkpb Returning quarterback Dejerric Bryant showed promise at times last year, especially with his legs. MVSU lost some key offensive playmakers from a year ago in Booker T. Chambers, Steven McIntosh and Quinn McElfresh. But key offensive returners include Bryant at quarterback and John Derrick Smith of Greenwood at running back. Bryant finished 13th in the conference in total offense with 1,011 yards while Smith rushed for 296 yards on 75 carries and three touchdowns. “Bryant came in last year and did a tremendous job for us,” Dancy said. “He was probably the fourth or fifth quarterback coming into camp last fall but he did a good job staying poised and working hard when his number was called.” Bryant said he looks forward to taking more of a leadership role this season. “We have to be better as a team and I need to do what I need to do
to get better for my teammates,” Bryant said. “I will be held accountable for guys and making sure guys are in the right position at all times.” Along with Bryant and Smith, Dancy’s recruiting class of midyear transfers will look to help the Delta Devils out immediately. Some of them include wide receivers Sedevyn Gray and Jarius Clayton to replace the production of Chambers and McIntosh. Smith walked on at Valley after a two-year career at Mississippi Delta Community College and wound up leading all running backs on the ground, adding 19 receptions and scoring four touchdowns. “I worked hard, played my part and did what I could to help the team,” Smith said. “I’m hoping to gain 1,000 yards on the ground, and score more than I did last year. I expect to be in the end zone — that’s where I’m supposed to be,” Smith said. He’s hoping those numbers will lead him to be All-SWAC. “We want to establish the run, but we’ll throw the ball around too,” Dancy said. “The passing game isn’t that difficult, but there’s a lot built in off the pass.” Chambers’ absence will be especially notable – the senior won two placements on the AllSWAC team with 1,662 total yards across rushing, receiving and returning. Joining the new players is a refreshed staff. Offensive coordinator Jared Powers returns, and the biggest addition is the return of former MVSU great Willie Totten, who is back on the sidelines as the assistant head coach. This will be his 19th total season on the sidelines at the stadium that bears his name. Former MVSU standout Terrence Barron was elevated to an assistant coach and will work with receivers. Dwyan Luckey joins the staff as a running backs coach, and Jacob Davis is the new
graduate assistant in charge of tight ends. “Overall we want to be more disciplined,” Powers said. “We want to play very fast and with some tempo.” Mississippi Valley finished the 2018 season ranked seventh in the SWAC in total offense (19.9 points per game). abcbkpb This unit will feature a more veteran presence from a group that ranked ninth in their league in total defense (giving up 40-plus points per game). Leading tackler Tadarius Davis is back for another year, along with Tracy Thompkins, Jamenta Shaw and Jerry Garner. Defensive coordinator Derek Welch believes the growing pains felt last year will not be a factor this fall. “We’re expecting the defense to be the leader of this team. Our focus is to limit the opponent’s snaps, stop the run, and getting off the field on third down. Being in our second year with this defense and all they’ve learned from the past year will help.”
Stopping the run will be crucial to Valley’s success. Last year, opponents more than doubled Valley in the rushing department — racking up 2,569 yards against Valley’s 1,160. The 2019 squad features 30 Mississippians, the most for the team since the 2012 season. That year, Valley finished at 5-6 — a mark that hasn’t been replicated in Itta Bena since. On the line, a critical area of concern last year, features returners in Zacchaeus Sias, James Lofton and Nari Masslieno, all of whom were true freshmen last season. A lot of the newcomers are products of Mississippi’s JUCO circuit. Nearly every junior college in the state is sending a player to Valley, including East Mississippi, Northwest Mississippi and Mississippi Delta to name a few. Featured on the schedule this fall are six home contests, including four straight SWAC matchups from Jackson State to Grambling State, and non-conference matchups.
Johnson-led Braves take aim at another league crown plrqetbpqbok= ^qeibqf`= `lkcbobk`b
By BILL BURRUS péçêíë=bÇáíçê
The SWAC is known to be the land of high-flying offense and there have been some impressive signal callers to come out of the league. The SWAC has produced some of the greatest quarterbacks in college football from Doug Williams, Shack Harris, Steve McNair, Darnell Kennedy, Bruce Eugene, Tavaris Jackson, Ben Anderson, Devante Kincade and others. Now a new crop of signal callers will leave their marks on the conference, and all eyes are on Alcorn State’s Noah Johnson. At 6 feet and 195 pounds, Johnson isn’t a physically imposing guy but his numbers are imposing and then some. The SWAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2018, he was able to lead the Braves to a SWAC title, a Celebration Bowl berth and a 9-4 record.
Johnson passed for 2,207 yards and 15 touchdowns while adding 1,080 yards on the ground and 11 rushing touchdowns. He ranked third in the nation in rushing yards per carry (7.5) and 16th in completion percentage (.621) in his first full season as the starter. Four offensive linemen who started in the Celebration Bowl return to the trenches and Kevin Hall is receiving a lot of attention from NFL scouts. Running back De’Shawn Waller is an All-American caliber back, and four of Johnson’s top five targets in a balanced passing attack are returning. On defense, seven players who started in the Celebration Bowl return to the lineup from a Top 20 defense. Players like lineman Sterling Shippy — who signed as a free agent with the Indianapolis Colts — will surely be missed, but the top five tacklers all return, the
interception leader returns (Javen Morrison) and the leading sack man is back (Terry Whittington). n g~Åâëçå=pí~íÉW JSU was an interesting study last fall. The early road win over Florida A&M was impressive considering the Rattlers were in the MEAC championship hunt until the final week of the season. The Prairie View A&M win was another stellar showing, and after the coaching change, the program won two of its last three games and was tied at halftime with SWAC champion Alcorn State in the finale before falling in the second half. The offense is looking for its leader coming into the fall, as the quarterback battle this spring was between returnees Derrick Ponder and Jack Strouse, and Western Michigan transfer Matt Little. Also, in late May after spring ball, Florida quarterback transfer Jalon Jones joined the pro-
gram. Whoever comes out on top will have his two top rushers back and several starting linemen back. The wide receiver position should be interesting to watch, as talented candidates abound. This was one of the lowest scoring offenses in the FCS last year, but it seems to have the talent to improve. Defense was Jackson State’s strong point last year, and the top tackler is back in sophomore star LB Keonte Hampton. There is starting experience back at several positions. This unit was one of the toughest red-zone groups in FCS football, was stingy against the run and overall could clamp down as well as just about any defense in the HBCU ranks. Look for the defense to set the tone early in the season as the offense comes along with a new full-time quarterback. There seems to be a buzz about new coach John Hendrick, who had his interim
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label removed in December “Our goals will remain the same: graduate our student-athletes, compete for championships and continue to build this program into a force in the SWAC and the destination HBCU program in the country,” said Hendrick. On an interim basis, he
replaced Tony Hughes during the 2018 season after a 3-4 start. After winning two of its last three games in a convincing manner, JSU turned things over to Hendrick. n `çåí~Åí=_áää=_ìêêìë=~í RUNJTOPT= çê ÄÄìêêìë]ÖïÅçããçåJ ïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK
PageNO Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
`çåíáåìÉÇ=Ñêçã=m~ÖÉ=NM ---------------------------------------------------------------------ran for 1,786 yards on 132 carries, scoring 30 touchdowns. He threw three TD passes and played defensive end as well. Howard is looking for sophomore Jalyn Lewis to lead the offense.
`çåíáåìÉÇ=Ñêçã=m~ÖÉ=T ---------------------------------------------------------spring, but I’ve worked hard over the summer, and I’m confident in my abilities. I just want to do whatever it takes to help this team win. Coach has put me at running back, and I want to be the best running back I can be,” added Stanley. House believes Stanley will be able to give Leflore an added punch in the backfield. “Emanuel is a good student on and off the field. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him the last two years. He’s a vocal leader of this team, and the kids seem to rally around him. They really look up to him as a leader,” House said. “He’s willing to learn new things, and I guess that was one of the reasons we moved him to running back. He was our most valuable offensive lineman last year. I look at his aggression on the field and feel like he will be able to run the football. Physically, he’ll be able to drag some people and push the pile.” Stanley will join bruising quarterback Maurice Edwards in the backfield. Those two combined give Leflore about 430 pounds in the backfield. “Maurice is one of my closest friends. He’s very quick on his feet and has great vision. He’s also very strong. I think with both of us back there we should be able to run the ball,” Stanley said. “We have some good young players, especially at wide receiver. They have the heart of a lion. They have shown they want to win. “We have depth on the offensive line. That really made it so I could move to running back. This year’s team is very hungry to go out and prove we can win every game. I want to help this team win. No matter what I’m asked to do, I’m going to put forth my best effort.” Stanley said he patterns his game on defense to that of Carolina Panther linebacker Luke Kuechly. “He studies the game on film and he wants to make every tackle.” Stanley would love to play college ball upon graduation, but if that chance doesn’t arrive, he plans on majoring in science. “Right now, my focus is being a state champion when I’m done at Leflore. Coach House tells us of how he won a state title in high school. You have to believe in yourself and grind each day.”
“It all starts with Jalyn on offense for us this season. We have four or five other guys we feel who can catch and run with the ball. Jalyn has the speed to go all the way when he touches the ball,” Howard added. Lewis ran for 752 yards on only 57 carries and scored 11 touchdowns as a freshman. He averaged 13.2 yards per carry. Junior Jimmy Gibbs will line up at quarterback. He’s backed
up by sophomore AJ McGee. Lewis is the primary running back, and he will be spelled by sophomore Alex Gardner. Sophomores Dariyus Johnson and James Harris and senior Vintavious Noland will play wide receiver. Noland transferred in from West Tally. Working on the line are sophomore MJ Davenport, junior Zavius Sims, eighth grader Damieon Sanders and Gardner.
“We’re not going to be big across the front, but we are athletic and quick. In eight man, you don’t need 250-pound linemen. We just need three guys who can block and make a way for our backs to get outside,” Howard said. abcbkpb Tate Johnson will handle the defensive coordinator duties for the Lions. He held the position last season. “We will probably run a 3-3-2
base most of the time, and also run a 4-2 with two corners. When we need to play a free safety, we’ll run a 3-2-3,” said Johnson. Working across the front are Sims and sophomore Jaylen Prayer at end, and Sanders and eighth grader Nick Leach at nose tackle. Freshman Terry Mayes is working at defensive end. Davenport and Lewis will play linebacker, and Noland, Johnson and Gibbs are in the secondary.
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By BILL BURRUS péçêíë=bÇáíçê
MOORHEAD — It wasn’t that elusive winning season he was after, but Jeff Tatum and the Mississippi Delta Community College Trojans made improvement last year. Tatum After winning just one combined game in the previous two years, MDCC went 3-6 a year ago for its best season in several years. That team lost some tough games, but there has been plenty of freshman growth from that team that should pay off in 2019. The Trojans have suffered through 14 straight losing seasons. It will take experience
and talent to break the cycle of losing in Moorhead, and Tatum believes he has enough of both ingredients to show progress this season. Tatum returned to Moorhead in 2013 with hopes of reviving the once-proud program, where he was the offensive coordinator for the school’s only national title in 1993. He went just 2-7 in his first season back at MDCC — a perennial player in the postseason during Tatum’s stint as an assistant in Moorhead from 1988-1997. “We are working hard to put a product on the field that our fans will be proud of. I feel like we’re boosting the talent level enough now that you start seeing the wins and losses balance out a little more,” said Tatum. For the first time in recent history, MDCC will not have a player from Leflore County on
its roster. lccbkpb Tatum will serve as the offensive coordinator. “We struggled the last two years and we’ve had a couple of coaching changes,” Tatum said. “We had some success late in the year last season, and we’re using that to springboard into the 2019 season.” A one-back system will be prominent as Tatum will rely on sophomore running back Patrick Jackson, who had 503 rushing yards on 161 carries with six touchdowns in 2018. “He’ll be our featured guy. He had a great season last year and a good spring. We’ll find a lot of ways to get him the football, both running and receiving,” Tatum said. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------pÉÉ TROJANSI=m~ÖÉ=NP
Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 PageNP cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
Statesmen out for improvement abiq^= pq^qb
By ANDY COLLIER _çäáî~ê=`çããÉêÅá~ä
Every year presents a fresh start and a new team. The Delta State University Statesmen are working hard to show their fans that 2019 will be much better than 2018. The Statesmen battled hard in many games last year but still finished seventh in the Gulf South Conference with a 2-8 record. The Statesmen aren’t expected to do much better this year, as they are picked to finish sixth in the GSC preseason coaches poll. Delta State head coach Todd Cooley, who is in his seventh year with the program, said the players have put last season behind them. “We’re not talking about last year,” Cooley said. “This is 2019. We learned a lot of lessons in 2018 to help us this year, but this is this year. We’re focused on getting better every day and doing the things it takes to be a championship football team.” Cooley said he is excited about the group he has this year, and the potential the team has. “I like their work ethic,” Cooley said. “It’s extremely hot right now, but we’ve pushed through it with great attitudes. I think these guys are doing a good job of hydrating and controlling what they can control. They’re doing a good job of competing against each other. I think that we have a chance to be a good football team. We’re not there yet, but I like where we are. I like the attitudes and the leadership.” Cooley said he feels his coaching staff has done a good job of preparing for the season.
`çåíáåìÉÇ=Ñêçã=m~ÖÉ=N2 -------------------------------------------------------Two returning receivers, Labarron Jones and Dejohn Poke, will be called on as well. abcbkpb In his second season in charge of the defense, assistant coach Michael Turner lives under the mantra “actions speak louder than words.” “We want people who are bought in,” he said. “I’ve got four (championship) rings in my house but it’s about the journey and not the ring. The process and the grind and the sacrifice. That’s what we try to instill in these young men,” Turner said. Turner will run both odd and even fronts with a 4-3 and a lot thrown in to fit the situation. The defense will have several key returning players. “We’re going to be somewhat seasoned,” Turner said. “We’ve got the four up front and one linebacker coming back.” Defensive linemen Rodney Mason and Rashaun Williams return to help anchor things up front. Turner has high hopes based on the dedication and hard work and talent he’s been watching in the weight room and on the practice field. “If we don’t make the playoffs, we underachieved this year,” Turner said.
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“They’ve got great insight, and they’re great recruiters,” Cooley said. “I think that’s going to be shown when we take the field. I think we’ve got a lot more talent than we had a year ago, and we’re a deeper football team.” On offense, sophomore Patrick Shegog has continued to improve at quarterback. Last season. Shegog had a great year under some tough circumstances, as he was the team’s leader in passing yards (1,722) and rushing yards (546). He completed 168-of-286 passes with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and scored four touchdowns on 144 carries. Shegog’s performance was good enough to earn him GSC Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year honors. “Patrick Shegog looks like a different player from a year ago,” Cooley said. “I like our offensive line. I think we’re in better shape. The receivers are starting to buy in. We’ve got a little more buy in on that side. They’re starting to make plays in practice that you want to see, plays down the field that we didn’t necessarily make
in the spring. I’m excited about that.” The top returning receivers from last year are senior Tony Daggett (22 rec., 176 yards) and fifth-year senior Leon Green (14 rec., 226 yards, 4 TDs) with senior Jack McDonald as the tight end (20 rec., 182 yards, 1 TD). Green, a former East Side High School standout, has caught 42 passes for 497 yards with six touchdowns in his DSU career. At running back, junior Kelon Wilson (124 carries, 524 yards, 8 TDs) is also looking to have a better year this season as well as junior Trey Roberson (44 carries, 153 yards, 2 TDs). Junior running backs Deion Dampier (Co-Lin CC, Pinola, Miss.) and Rico Owens (Co-Lin CC, Greenwood, Miss.) were named to the GSC’s top newcomers list. One of the leaders on the offensive line will be junior offensive guard Innis Claud V, who made the preseason All-GSC team. On defense, the Statesmen return junior defensive lineman Eric Sadler, who was named to the preseason AllGSC team. Sadler, a second team AllGSC selection last year, recorded 27 tackles including five tackles-for-loss with 2.5 sacks in 2018. Senior linebacker Vada King has also looked good in practice. King is DSU’s top returning tackler as he recorded 57 tackles with nine tackles-for-loss and two sacks in 2018. Two other players that made a big impact last year who are returning are junior linebacker Dante Williams (50 tackles, 7 tacklesfor-loss) and junior defensive back Chris Pickett (46 tackles, 10 passes defended). Junior defensive back Rodrick Jarrett (Co-Lin CC, Hollandale) and junior DB Dayreke Snow (Gulf Coast CC, Newton).
PageNQ Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
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Former GHS teammates now big Dogs By BILL BURRUS péçêíë=bÇáíçê
Greenwood High School football fans will be paying closer attention to Mississippi State in 2019. That’s because a pair of former GHS standouts are expected to make significant contributions on the gridiron in Starkville. Marquiss Spencer is a 6-foot-4, 285-pound junior defensive end, and Kwatrivous Johnson, a 6-7, 333-pound redSpencer shirt freshman, is playing left tackle behind starter Tyre Phillips. Last year, Spencer was lost to a season-ending shoulder injury after just four games. But if his performance in the spring game was any indication, Spencer is more than ready for a breakout season at defensive end. He had three solo tackles, one tackle for loss and one safety in the spring contest. He is listed No. 1 on the team’s depth chart. With all the personnel the Bulldogs lost on the defensive line from last year, Spencer has an excellent opportunity to make an impact. He began his career as an outside linebacker and gives Mississippi State an excellent pass rusher off the edge with the size to play inside if needed. Steve Robertson, who covers Mississippi State for 247Sports, has followed Spencer since he was at Greenwood High and believes Spencer is ready for a big year. “Marquiss Spencer is currently winning the first-team defensive end opposite Chauncey Rivers. Spencer benefitted from a redshirt year and looks better than ever. He’s expected to be a real factor in the Bulldog pass rush,” Robertson said. Spencer, considered the No. 9 player in the state of Mississippi by 247Sports as a senior at GHS, has appeared in 29 total games and is
looking for his first career start, which may come Aug. 31 when the Bulldogs face Louisiana Lafayette in New Orleans. He has collected 39 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and two sacks in 21/2 years at MSU and had just three tackles before going down last season. As a sophomore in 2017, he had his most productive season. Playing in all 13 contests, he set career high numbers with 19 total tackles and 4.5 Johnson tackles for loss. As a true freshman, Spencer played in 12 games, mostly at the Viper hybrid linebacker position, recording 17 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery. Like his former GHS teammate, Johnson is trying to make his way in Starkville. Johnson, nicknamed “Dolla Bill”, saw limited action in two games. When Johnson came into this world on Dec. 1, 1999, his grandmother Mary – who was not a fan of the name that was picked out for her new grandson – decided to come up with a nickname to call him. The movie “The Players Club” just so happened to be playing on the television in the waiting room while Johnson was being delivered. Mary chose the name “Dollar Bill” after Bernie Mac’s character in the film. “It’s just stuck with me ever since then,” Johnson said. The Greenwood native got a firsthand glimpse of the competition in the SEC trenches and played on the scout team last fall. Those duties meant facing one of the best defensive lines in the country with future NFL first-round draft picks. “Since I redshirted last season it’s been pretty good,” said Johnson. “I’ve been on the scout team going against the No. 1 defensive line in college football. Going against those guys every
day did nothing but motivate me to push myself to go harder. Going against Jeffery Simmons and (Montez) Sweat and all of them, those are fast and strong guys. It did nothing but boost my morale up.” It also made Johnson focus more on and off the field in order to elevate his play. “Man, going against Sweat and Chauncey (Rivers) was pretty rough,” added Johnson. “But it teaches you, really makes you get your steps and technique better. You have to be ready to improve your pass sets and they really helped me out on the line last year.” Like most incoming offensive linemen, Johnson faced a steep learning curve at the collegiate level and thus a reason he redshirted. He was dominant during his prep days at Greenwood High School and was an Under Armour All-American. Last year, Johnson was too heavy and that aspect was quickly pointed out by position coach Marcus Johnson. These days Johnson is at his lowest weight in a few years and said Johnson gave him all the motivation he needed to drop some pounds. “When I first checked in here I was 385 pounds,” said Johnson. “Now I’m 330 and before I weighed in for practice I was 328 pounds. It was just about staying focused on the field and pushing myself. Coach Johnson told me if I wanted to get out on the field then I better lose that weight. So he motivated me, too, and motivated me to come out there and do sprints on my own and to quit eating late at night.” Robertson’s take on Johnson: “He has trimmed up and looks more athletic than last year. He’s always had the right attitude, but now he looks SEC-ready physically. I don’t think he starts this year, but should be a twodeeper with an eye on starting next year.” n `çåí~Åí=_áää=_ìêêìë=~í=RUNJTOPT çê= ÄÄìêêìë]ÖïÅçããçåïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK cçääçï=çå=qïáííÉêW]_áää|_ìêêìëK
Coach enters new year with new approach
By BILL BURRUS péçêíë=bÇáíçê
Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead looked visibly different at SEC Media Days this summer. While football questions were assuredly mixed into the conversations, it was Moorhead’s significant weight loss that onlookers were curious about. He calls it 'intermittent fasting”" — a school of thought in which all he consumes before 6 p.m. is water and the occasional Diet Mountain Dew. Moorhead is down nearly 60 pounds because of it. “Part of the reason for the diet and losing some weight, I was tired of all the recruits on the trail asking me if I played right or left tackle rather than how many yards I passed for in college,” the former Fordham quarterback quipped. Of course, Moorhead’s slimmed physique is just a piece of the coach’s changed mentality toward 2019. Following an 8-5 debut, there was a level of disappointment in the locker room and amongst the MSU fan base. The Bulldogs boasted the nation’s top total defense and the SEC’s all-time leading quarterback rusher in Nick Fitzgerald. But all too frequently — most notably in games against Kentucky, Florida, Alabama and LSU — a lack of inventiveness and an anemic offense grounded an MSU attack that never quite took full flight. The 2018 Bulldogs averaged 7.5 yards per play in the eight wins and 3.6 yards per play in the four regular-season losses. In Moorhead’s first trip to Media Days, he preached championship mentality, despite the fact the Bulldogs have won double-digit games just three times since the program’s inception in 1902. Moorhead has quickly tempered those expectations entering his second year at the helm in Starkville. “I think me doing some of those things early on may not have been fair to the guys because anything we did may not have been good enough,” he said. “That’s one thing that I learned, that I probably should have researched a little more into our team who we were and what we’re capable of doing from a historical context before I started talking about ring sizes and other things like that.” Moorhead furthered this downplaying narrative when speaking on his first full recruiting cycle at MSU. “I think from a recruiting standpoint, I think we need to be unique in our approach,” he said. “I think Mississippi State lacks a little bit of the immediate and long-term championship tradition that some of the teams in our conference do and some of the bells and whistles from a facility standpoint.” This isn’t to say Moorhead’s trepidation for setting sky-high goals is because he is low on his team. The Bulldogs return 57 percent of last year’s team — good for 92nd of the 130 teams in the FBS. n `çåí~Åí= _áää= _ìêêìë= ~í= RUNJTOPT= çê= ÄÄìêJ êìë]ÖïÅçããçåïÉ~äíÜKÅçãK=
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New-look Rebs excited to be past bowl ban lib= jfpp
By BILL BURRUS péçêíë=bÇáíçê
Ole Miss starts a new season with new hope for the future. The Rebels enter the 2019 season with new coordinators continuing to install vastly different schemes. There are also several young starters, especially on offense, including a redshirt freshman quarterback who has thrown just 22 passes in his college career. Safe to say the Rebels have a lot of work to do before their Aug. 31 opener at Memphis. “There’s a lot of youth in here, a lot of competition,” third-year coach Matt Luke said. “But I’m just really excited for this month of August to build and mold this team.” Ole Miss could be one of the Southeastern Conference’s more intriguing teams this fall, mainly because there’s so much uncertainty around the roster and how the new coordinators might use the young talent. Not much is expected: The Rebels were picked to finish sixth out of seven teams in the SEC Western Division in the media poll that was released in July. Youth is certainly a concern, but coaches and players say it’s not necessarily a bad thing. “I don’t have to worry about bad habits,” new offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez said. “Because they don’t have any habits.” The program does have a carrot that’s been missing. Ole Miss is once again eligible for the postseason after serving a two-year ban due to NCAA rules violations. “It’s definitely different,” senior linebacker Qaadir Sheppard said. “For me, I’m excited, because I’ve never been to a bowl in my career. It’s great to be able to compete for one.” Rodriguez and defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre bring ample head coaching experience — more than 30 years combined — and are now in the process of overhauling a program that was
16-20 over the past three seasons, including 5-7 last fall. Rodriguez hopes to bring a more balanced offense. In recent years. Ole Miss was known for an all-or-nothing vertical passing game that resulted in a lot of touchdowns or three-and-outs. The Rebels expect Matt Corral to be the starter at quarterback, even taking the rare step of bringing the freshman to SEC Media Days in July. He completed 16 of 22 passes last season for 239 yards, two touchdowns and one interception last season, but still has four years of eligibility thanks to the year-old rule that allows players to compete in four games without losing their redshirt. “Matt’s been terrific since I’ve been here,” Rodriguez said. “I have to get on him on certain things like you do all your players, but I’ve loved working with him. This camp is going to be the most challenged he’s ever been in his life, but I think he’s looking forward to that.” The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Corral has some speed to go along with his arm, running for 83 yards and two touchdowns last season. Rodriguez feels that’s a good fit for what he’s trying to accomplish. “He wants to get better,” Rodriguez said. “It’s my job to help him get there.” MacIntyre is switching the defense to a 3-4 alignment with three defensive linemen and four linebackers, which was a staple during his later years as the head coach at Colorado. The Rebels have 10 defensive starters returning, but it remains to be seen if that’s a positive. Ole Miss has had one of the league’s worst defenses over the past three years, giving up about 35 points per game over that stretch, including 36.2 points in 2018. MacIntyre says there’s reason to believe the Rebels can improve in a hurry. “I know the young men have a good grasp of the defense,” MacIntyre said. “Now we have to go
out and get enough repetitions to get them ready to go.” Luke says Corral “was thrust into a leadership role, and I really think he’s done a great job of competing and carrying himself the right way.” Corral says the early leadership “doesn’t feel forced, I wanted it this way. It’s part of the reason I came here — being a leader, doing what you’re supposed to do and setting an example.” lccbkpb The most anticipated signee is five-star running back Jerrion Ealy of Jackson Prep. Luke had to get past the Major League Baseball draft to know for sure that Ealy would join the Rebels. “I think Jerrion loved Ole Miss, and he was one of our first commitments in this class. I think he wanted to be there. Obviously if there was an opportunity for him to take care of his family for the rest of his life he was going to take it, but fortunately it worked out for us,” Luke said. The Rebels expect to have ability if not experience at receiver after the departure of last year’s three starters — D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge, as well as tight end Dawson Knox. Sophomore slot receiver Elijah Moore had 36 catches for 398 yards as a freshman and showed he could make tough catches in traffic. He’ll have an expanded role in the run game. After playing behind the big three, Braylon Sanders will become more of a downfield target. He averaged 16.9 yards per catch last year and in limited opportunities showed big-play potential. Running back Scottie Phillips has All-SEC potential. He narrowly missed 1,000 yards last year as a first-year junior college transfer and would have gotten there had an ankle injury against Texas A&M not kept him out of most of the last three games. Ole Miss offensive players may need to be extra elusive early while a rebuilding offensive line
— only two starters return — finds its way. Luke reiterated his stance that true freshmen offensive linemen — seven signees who were not around for spring drills — will have to play key roles. The preseason depth chart lists Bryce Mathews at left tackle and Royce Newman at left guard, two juniors who have yet to start a game. abcbkpb Improvement against the run was the battle cry in 2018 and will be again after the Rebels allowed 221.8 rushing yards per game last year. “I like the 3-4 principle for a lot of reasons,” MacIntyre says. “You’re able to clog up the B gaps and make the ball bounce, and you’re able to bring edge pressure. We’ve developed a 3-4 scheme to fit college football in the wide, spread game.” Junior college transfer Sam
Williams is expected to make a quick impact as a pass rusher at outside linebacker. He’s 6-foot-3, 258 pounds and had 17.5 sacks at Northeast Mississippi Community College last year. Junior linebacker Mohamed Sanogo led the Rebels with 112 tackles and takes over one of the inside spots. Junior college transfer Lakia Henry, a contender for the other inside spot, will have to be brought up to speed quickly. He did not arrive on campus in time for spring drills. The outside backers will occasionally put a hand in the dirt and give the Rebels a five-man front. More often than not, though, interior linemen Benito Jones and Josiah Coatney will have the strange sensation of having no one beside them at the line of scrimmage. Jones will play nose and Coatney end. Jones had nine tackles for a loss last year, and Coatney was third with 63.
Georgia leads pack in hot pursuit of Alabama
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama is still king in the Southeastern Conference, if not nationally. Nothing that happened in the national championship game changed that, beyond serving as a heartening reminder that Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide isn’t in fact invulnerable. The pursuit continues in the SEC, with Georgia again leading the chase pack after coming ever so close the past two seasons — in league and national championship games. So Tide players are motivated by the mantra “never be satisfied.” For Georgia, the catchphrase is “do more.” Meanwhile, both can eye each other throughout the regular season just in case they meet again in the SEC title game. An Alabama team that won every regular-season game by at least 22 points, had to rally to beat the Bulldogs in Atlanta with
the SEC title on the line before ultimately getting pummeled 44-16 by Clemson in the national championship game. “Our mantra now for our guys that we have as a leadership group is to never be satisfied,” said Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, last season’s runner up for the Heisman Trophy. “Early in the season, we’d been beating teams by a lot. Of course you’re going to get satisfied, because you feel invincible as a team. But never being satisfied is the way to go for us. We’ve just got to keep going until we get what we want.” Georgia safety J.R. Reed says the Bulldogs can’t focus on a potential SEC title game rematch with the Tide. “We can’t look ahead way down the line, because we might not make it there if we look way down there,” Reed said. “We can’t count our eggs before they hatch.” Teams like Florida, LSU
and Texas A&M are ready to pounce if either favorite falters. All three, like Georgia and Alabama, have high hopes and veteran quarterbacks. In fact, eight SEC quarterback starters return and four other teams could start graduate transfers. While Alabama’s nonconference schedule is less formidable than usual, other potential SEC contenders have some big ones. Auburn opens with Oregon in Arlington, Texas. Then on Sept. 7, Texas A&M visits Clemson and LSU is at Texas before Georgia hosts Notre Dame on Sept. 21. So there should be plenty of drama on the road to Atlanta. qeb=c^slofqbp b~ëíW If any team is threatening the SEC supremacy of Alabama’s program, it’s Georgia. The Bulldogs have not only challenged the Tide on the field but on the recruiting trail. Led by quarterback
Jake Fromm, Georgia is the clear favorite to win a third consecutive division title. The Florida Gators are coming off Dan Mullen’s 10-win debut season and Missouri is boosted by the addition of quarterback Kelly Bryant, a former Clemson starter. tÉëíW= Alabama remains the favorite, as usual. But LSU’s Ed Orgeron and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher are trying to build on solid 2018 seasons when the Tigers won 10 games and the Aggies went 9-4. Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi and Mississippi State are breaking in new quarterbacks. qlm=mi^vbop Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn: Opted to return for his senior season though he’s a highly rated NFL prospect. Centerpiece of what could be one of the nation’s top defensive lines. Grant Delpit , DB, LSU: A unanimous All-American and finalist for the Nagurs-
dÉçêÖá~= èì~êíÉêÄ~Åâ= g~âÉ= cêçãã= íÜêçïë= ~= é~ëë= ÇìêáåÖ éê~ÅíáÅÉ=áå=^íÜÉåëI=dÉçêÖá~K=dÉçêÖá~==Ñìääó=ÉñéÉÅíë=íç=ÅçåJ íÉåÇ=Ñçê=~=å~íáçå~ä=ÅÜ~ãéáçåëÜáéK= ki Award as the nation’s top defender. Delpit led the league with five interceptions but also had 74 tackles and five sacks. Fromm, QB, Georgia: One of the nation’s most efficient passers, ranking fifth last season. Has 54 touchdown passes against
just 13 interceptions in two seasons as starter. C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida: The latest standout defensive back for the Gators. Has six interceptions over the past two seasons and returned a pair of them for touchdowns in 2017.
PageNS Greenwood Commonwealth / Weekend, August 17-18, 2019 cllq_^ii=OMNV =======================================================================================================================================================================
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