VOLUME 2 ISSUE 2
Fall Report Teams look to flex down the stretch what’s inside What We’ve Learned So Far Remember The Name
Mr. Elite Finalists Fan Frenzy
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victory is waiting for you By Webb Lewis Follow Webb on Twitter @WebbLewisSES
The season is winding down. That means for many high school football players across the state, their days of strapping on the plastic and lacing up the cleats are coming to an end. Yes, there will be a select few that will continue their careers at the next level but for most of the seniors; these final weeks are all they have left. I encourage you seniors to look back at your time as a football player. Look back to the very beginning. Reflect on what started it all for you. What made you want to play? Who in your life made playing the game possible? For most of us there was someone who was always around. That person took us to practice, bought us our gear and cheered us on every step of the way. When we triumphed, they triumphed. When we hurt, they hurt. Think about that person as you come down the final stretch of your career. Play for them. They have earned it. So go out with a bang. That being said, it is now time. It is now time to lay it all on the line. It is time to empty out. Everything you have ever worked for has led to this moment. The peewee practices that taught you the game all the way to the dreaded two-a-day’s in the unforgiving Mississippi summers have prepared you for this final stretch of the season. This final stretch of your high school football life. These games matter. Some of you are fighting for your playoff lives, others are already in and longing for that opportunity to bring home the trophy as a champion. But even for those who will not play in the postseason, these games are just as important because they will shape how you are remembered. These battles will be intense and will give answer to the questions that you have asked yourself over the years. When that alarm clock goes off for that early morning workout and it is still dark out side, when your body is screaming for you to stop but your heart pushes you through, all of the sweat, all of the pain…this is the reason. This is why you hurt. These final games give meaning to it all. Hall of Fame NFL coach Vince Lombardi once explained this best and I will close with his words. “It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men…Well, men, let me see your hearts. Victory is waiting for you.”
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Tiffany S. Lewis LPC
DL, Wayne County
RB, Desoto Central
OL, West Point
ATH, St. Martin
WR, Oak Grove
DL, South Panola
QB, Center Hill
DL, West Jones
DE, Noxubee County
WR, Center Hill
What we’ve learned
Young Blankets Can Be Great
THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH PANOLA
The Golden Wave can be a really good football team. They have shown as much scoring 55 in a huge win against Shannon as well beating Corinth and Hernando on the road. However, they are also a young team. They weren’t able to gain their footing in losses to Clarksdale, Brandon and Columbus. Offensively, they are led by senior quarterback Daniel Bristow who is averaging 155 yards passing per game. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Jett Johnson has been a star. Johnson leads the team with 83 tackles, in addition to his two picks and three sacks. It also shouldn’t go unnoticed that defensive end Chase Cannon has been a disruptive force this season with two sacks and nine tackles for loss, and tons of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Tigers still play with that University of South Panola swagger. That much, we know. Whether or not anyone will be able to challenge them for yet another state championship is still to be seen. Columbus and Kylin Hill look to be contenders and Desoto Central can’t be discounted, however, the Tigers look destined to be in the State Championship game. The offense has found playmakers in Donald Twilley and Oluwain Hoskins. The defense is certainly an impressive group. Pass rush specialist and Mississippi State commit Drelan Porter has stayed in the backfield and Southern Miss commit Demetrius Market has been good on the backend.
Oxford Charging Towards Another 5A Title Game The Oxford Chargers started slow, losing their second and third games of the season, but they are who we thought they would be with Jack Abraham back under center this season. Some were worried after the Chargers started 1-2, but a big win over crosstown rival in game four changed their season. SES was on hand for that win and saw a great defensive performance that has seemingly gotten Oxford back on track. Running back Drew Bianco was forced to leave football behind but sophomore Hiram Wadlington may just add something the Chargers needed, a big play running back. The defense has turned heads after losing two big time linebackers. Jack Turner, Korbin Harmon lead the way on that side of the ball. And with Tulane quarterback commit Jack Abraham and Ole Miss receiver commit DK Metcalf on the offensive side, we know the Chargers will score.
Move Or Get Ran Over By Lafayette Eric Roberson can really, really coach. The Commodores are rolling this season. The schedule is kind of funky for the Dores this season as they play straight through an 11game schedule without a bye. No off week for the Dores, no problem so far. Their lone loss came against crosstown rival Oxford and that is certainly no loss to hang your head over. But coach Robertson has again found a good, young quarterback who is a great fit for his system in junior Will Ard. However, Tyrell Price is the cog that makes the Dores go. He is well over 1,000 yards this season and appears bound for over 2,000. If no one is able to slow down Price, then he, Ard and a feisty defense could well be on their way to a title.
Madison Central Still Can Be Great Madison Central has the talent to be on the state’s best teams and there is no doubt about that. However, the fact is, the Jaguars have not proven that yet. Surely there isn’t a better string of three wins in a row than Meridian, Brandon and Oxford. The Jaguars did just that, however, those were the first three games of the season. Since then, they are 1-4. With that being said, they may also feature the state’s most impressive losses. South Panola, Clinton and Warren Central are the teams, from within Mississippi borders, have beat the Jags. Junior quarterback Jack Walker is capable of leading the Jaguars to where they want to be. It is just a matter of getting hot and doing it.
Falcons Are Flying High Check your local television programming for The Kylin Hill show, because its a pretty good show to follow on Friday nights. The junior running back for Columbus has been on fire this year leading the confident Falcons to a 3-0 start in their division. They still have South Panola left in their path towards a division title but their run game can get them there. The Falfcons average over 265 yards per game on the ground, lead by Hill and fellow juniors Kendre Conner and CJ Gholar. The defense has been stout, as well, only giving up over 20 points in two games this season.
West Point Shows Glimpses Of What’s To Come West Point has another of the state’s premier rushing attacks. However, the Green Wave also have one of the state’s best defenses. Outside of their loss against Oxford in which they gave up half a hundred, they are giving up less than 10 points per game. The offense has been dynamic, rushing for over 300 yards per game, led by sophomore quarterback Marcus Murphy who averages over 127 yards per game. Murphy is a name for fans to remember, as he could be a terror the next two seasons. He gets help from fellow sophomore Chris Calvert, who averages 98 yards per game on the ground. As good as the Green Wave are, they face an uphill battle to win their division because of the aforementioned Oxford Chargers.
Clinton Is Quietly One Of The State’s Top Teams Clinton may very well have the state’s most dynamic rushing attacks, but don’t underestimate their balance. The arrows basically have a thunder and lighting back line up in their offensive backfield each play. Potentially the state’s best player, Cam Akers, plays quarterback and fellow junior Darius Maberry plays running back. Akers and Maberry average over 120 yards on the ground each game. Here’s the kicker, though, Akers also averages nearly 190 yards per game through the air. Akers has 23 total TDs on the season. It’s been really impressive what Akers has been able to do throwing the football, considering he’ll likely be a running back in the SEC. When Clinton travels to face Starkville in the final game of the year, it should be one of the best matchups of the regular season. Talk about a grand finale.
Out Of Nowhere, Bulldogs Rise The Brandon Bulldogs just seem to keep getting better and better as the season goes on. Especially since their week two loss against Madison Central. Only Clinton and Northwest Rankin have even made it a game against the Bulldogs since that loss. They look primed for a run, however, the are in a division of solid opponents such as Meridian and Oak Grove. If they can come out of that division then they should be battle-tested and playoff ready. Junior quarterback Brady Anderson has been solid this season in the shadow of Gardner Minshew, which should not go unmentioned.
Offense Wins Games, Starkville Defense Can Win Titles There are two parallels I see between Starkville and Brandon, potentially the best two teams in the state behind South Panola. One is that they both lost a game they probably might win now, early in the season. Of course the Yellow Jackets lost to Jeffrey Simmons and Noxubee County in a slugfest to kick off the season. The other parallel I draw is that Starkville seems to be getting better and better each week. They are really hitting their stride lately and despite some challenges remaining in division play, the Yellow Jackets seem like an unstoppable train about now. Offensive playmaker AJ Brown is a beast for Starkville. He is nearing 700 yards receiving this season, in addition to closing in on that same number on the ground. He has scored 13 TDs receiving and rushing this season. Meanwhile, the Starkville defense has become one of the state’s best overall units. Their front seven features senior defensive linemen Kobe Jones and Lorenzo Dantzler, as well as junior linebacker Willie Gay. All three of those young men will play division one high major football.
Warren Central Wins But Gets No Respect Warren Central extended their winning streak to six games with a win over Madison Central last week. The Vikings are another team rolling since an early loss. Also, like the other teams to do that, their loss isn’t necessarily one that looks bad for them either, as it came at the hands of Wayne County. Since the loss they have taken down Pearl, Northwest Rankin, in addition to the Jaguars. Most of their games have been high scoring affairs, often playing games into the 40s and 30s. However, they were able to grind-it-out last week in a 16-6 game. Clinton and Starkville remain for the Vikings, so obviously there is still work to be done. Their running game will need to continue to stay hot down the stretch.
Noxubee County Needs Late Season Surge Similar to the way Madison Central’s season has unfolded so far, Noxubee County has been up and down. You can’t get much higher than back-to-back wins to begin the season against Starkville and Columbus. However, after a hot start they dropped four straight, one in Texas, but have won their last two in a row to get back to .500. They have been without star defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons for three games this season after an early season injury that has hampered his ability to slow offenses. He opened the year with a freakish game in a win against Starkville. He seemed poised to make Noxubee the state’s premier team. However, injuries are a part of the game. The Tigers are still a force to be reckoned with down the stretch.
Wildcat D Not Enough There may not be a more impressive trio of senior defenders anywhere else in the state other than Meridian. The Wildcats defense is home to three SEC commitments, all of whom are committed beyond the Mississippi borders. Defensive backs Zaire Jones(Vandy) and Quincy Lenton(Florida) control opposing offenses on the ground and in the air. Lenton is known for his physical nature, despite his stature. He makes bone-crushing hits weekly. Jones’s frame is more suitable for the safety position and he uses his size to be a dual-threat safety. And perhaps the most impressive of the group is defensive lineman Raekwon Davis(Alabama). Davis is over 6 feet and seven inches tall and plays with an unmatchable level of emotion and energy at times. He was once considered to be a prospect on the offensive line, too, because of his tall frame. However, an impressive summer on the camp circuit has all but solidified his future on the defensive side of the trenches. Meridian has to be more consistent down the stretch to get back into contention.
St. Martin Is LOADED The Yellowjackets have more talent in the backfield than any other team in the entire state. It all starts with junior QB Wayne Overman III. He runs the show and it is the greatest show in Mississippi. With athlete Tyler Polk being able to catch TDs, run TDs, throw TDs and score just about anyway the game allows, the Jackets are poised to make a deep run into the playoffs. As it stands the 6A South is wide open and if St. Martin can survive the back of their schedule, look out for the Jackets.
Oak Grove Rolling On After losing several key seniors from last years team and having their longtime coach retire, the Warriors were hit with more loss when the man they thought would be the new head coach had to step down just 2 weeks before the season began. No worries, they are on fire! On the arm of Alex Ward, the Warriors are dominating and looking like a more all around team then the previous years.
Desoto Central Still Trying To Get Over The Hump As good as youngsters Kylin Hill and Marcus Murphy have been for their teams this season, there’s no question the veteran senior running back Alan Lamar has been even better for Desoto Central. The Jaguars have a very good quarterback in senior Cameron Bowman and he’s having a solid season. However, Lamar has been an anchor. He is closing in on 2,000 yards this season, he has over 30 total touchdowns on the season, he rushes for over 230 yards per game and to top it off, he averages just under nine yards per carry. He has been dominant. It was known before the season that he was a good player, however, he has positioned himself firmly in the top group of our candidates for our Mr. Elite award, of course given to the best senior player in the state. He would much rather his team continue to perform well and make some more noise in division, though, I guarantee it.
A Night To Remember Defensive coaches may not want to remember this night but the Thursday night game between Desoto Central and Olive Branch. The game ended after three overtimes and OB came away with the win… 87-86. Desoto Central running back Alan Lamar totaled 11 touchdowns on the night and Olive Branch QB Brady Burse had 10 scores of his own.
The Hollow Is Amazing We can describe Pontotoc’s Friday night atmosphere but it simply will not do it justice. GO SEE IT FOR YOURSELF!
Jackson Prep Continues Reign Of Dominance Prep has yet to be defeated and is poised for a return trip to the title game and it looks like it will again be MRA waiting on them. Prep won head coach Ricky Black’s 200th game this season and have not come close to being tested in any form or fashion. An injury riddled MRA team is all that stands between them and another crown.
How Bout Them Greyhounds The Greyhounds are one of the most impressive one-loss teams on the season for sure. Their lone loss came in the opening game to Brandon by a final of 27-24. Since then they have been the hammer and their opponents have been nails. In fact, in their last three games they have only yielded 13 points and they are actually coming in having shut out their last two opponents. Quarterback Drew Windham is responsible for 12 TDs this season and the defense has foced 14 turnovers in 7 games. So the Greyhounds certainly have some key ingredients on both sides of the ball to be able to continue winning, even with George County and St. Martin still left on the schedule.
Join Webb Lewis and John Luke McCord aka JL Grindin every Tuesday for the SES Podcast. They will break down the SES Top 10 and touch on what all is going on around the high school gridiron in Mississippi.
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My Impressions To state the obvious, it has been an awesome season of high school football in Mississippi so far this season. There have been so many great games played. There have been records broken. Heck, there have been more surprises to even count. High school football in this state never disappoints and that’s why it’s the best time of the year. By John Luke McCord Follow John Luke on Twitter @JLGrindin
There is something so special about Friday nights in the Fall. And it feels good to know that will never change. With the sentimental stuff out of the way, I’d just like to say that this season would not have been so great without the fantastic game experiences I’ve enjoyed this season. So far this season Ive seen the blue turf at Tupelo, watched crosstown rivals Oxford and Lafayette battle, been to The Hollow in Pontotoc twice, seen Coach Pat Byrd and the Saltillo Tigers host Oxford and even stopped in on Tupelo Christian Prep and Coach Holiday. The best entrance onto the field I’ve seen this season was unquestionably the Tupelo Golden Wave. The blue turf is something you just must see in person. When I was there, the Golden Wave played host to county-rival Shannon. The atmosphere was great and the crowd was loud all night. It’s a must that I get back to see T. Braden Bishop and the Golden Wave again this season. I have to say that the best game I have been at this season was the Crosstown Classic between Oxford and Lafayette. The Chargers won 31-21, but it was much closer than that for most of the game. Jack Abraham for Oxford and Tyrell Price for Lafayette were huge for their respective teams that night. Each player was willing their team to win and both gave it their all. However, in the end it was an underclassman in CJ Terrell that would seal the deal for Oxford with a late pic, he second of the night. Perhaps the best performance I have seen this year came when I was at Saltillo High for their match against Oxford. I was eager to see the Tiger’s junior quarterback Clayton Knight. He was more than impressive in defeat. However, Jack Abraham threw three TDs to DK Metcalf in the first quarter of that game. Without question, the best place to watch a ball game that I have been to this season is The Hollow in Pontotoc. You’ve seen the pictures. How great are they? Well, the real thing is even better. The sound of the Warrior band, the Indian on a horse, the teepee, the totem pole and even the raucous student section. All the elements of a fantastic Mississippi high school football atmosphere can be found within The Hollow. It may be the most unique venue in the state. Not to mention, the Warriors are putting an impressive product on the field again this season, as well. Lastly, the place with the best feel. That is what I would say about Tupelo Christian Prep. It wasn’t the biggest place, nor the fanciest, nor did it have the most unique traditions. However, it was home to some of the nicest people I have encountered this season. And that’s not a knock at anywhere else. I can only say positive things about each place I have been. However, everyone speaks to you and reaches out to you at TCPS. Also, coach Shaune Holiday, his staff and players are such a tight-knit group that it’s hard to believe they are not an actual family of blood relation. They are unbreakable at TCPS, and so hospitable. The year has not seen it’s end, though, and I hope to have more good things to say about the places I visit in the second half of the season in my next report.
remember the name
These underclassmen were unknowns when the year began but have since left their mark on the 2015 season and are poised to take the state by storm in 2016.
Clayton Knight QB, 2017 Saltillo
RB, 2017 Presbyterian Christian
RB, 2017 Kossuth
QB, 2017 Pontotoc
QB, 2018 West Point
Hiram Wadlington RB, 2018 Oxford
LB, 2018 Tupelo
LB, 2017 Wayne Academy
LB, 2018 Hazlehurst
WR, 2017 Ocean Springs
Sirmarcus Evans WR, 2018 Saltillo
K, 2018 St. Martin
WR, 2017 Lake Cormorant
DB, 2018 Oxford
DB, 2017 Canton Academy
A Plea for High School Football By Austin Davis Follow Austin on Twitter ABDavis10
I’m coming to the end of my first month with SES Mississippi. This has been my first time covering games. It was my first time seeing these teams in person. And, these have been my first high school games to watch in three years. I love football in its purest forms. Most NFL regular season games simply don’t interest me. College football games that don’t feature an SEC team (especially my own), never earn much of my attention. If I can’t connect with a story line or feel the weight of a game, I will change the channel or refuse to attend. Playoffs and championships are really the only times I can appreciate NFL or college football. I don’t know if it’s the money that sucks the life out of the game or if my viewing every other college football team as an enemy makes me disinterested. Either way, I struggle to enjoy those games. These past Friday nights, I have been reminded that high school football just might be the best brand of football available to us. The larger 6A schools usually field more flashy and competitive teams while 1A schools struggle to attract much talent or fans. However, regardless of division, certain qualities are consistent across the high school landscape that wins our affections. The players aren’t larger than life… yet. Every school has players in their folklore that amazed the town, set records, and maybe even won championships. The legends began on high school gridirons. Greats of Mississippi like Steve ‘Air’ McNair and Marcus Dupree showed their greatness as teenagers on Friday nights in small towns. Now, every team doesn’t have a legend each season, but each year a key group of guys, usually seniors, are the hometown heroes. Everyone knows their names and families. Everyone has watched them grow from peewee into the varsity level. Quite often, there are players being recruited to play in college, which adds even more drama to a high school football game. It becomes a game among fans to see which coaches and recruiters are watching their boys. These are the type of story lines we crave in sports. The players are peers. Many fans of a high school team (present company excluded), once played or cheered for that school on Friday nights. It’s a bond that ties generations to high school teams and promises future involvement. The fans watch the game and recall their own fond memories of playing. Different parts of a game can trigger old thoughts about that crucial goal line stand from 10 years ago or impossible field goal from 20 years ago. The players know that their supporters behind them understand what they are going through on the field. Its this identification and ability to place yourself on the field that makes high school football much more special to many more people. The community gathers here. NFL and College Football games are much more likely to attract bandwagon fans. Sure, there are families that are lifelong Saints fans (like mine) or had people attend Ole Miss (like mine). However, among the thousands of fans that these teams attract, a large portion never attended the school or may not actually be from that city. In contrast, the fans at a high school game are members of that community. The stands are comprised of families, local leaders, and students who all have relatives or friends on the field. Everyone has a personal connection to the drama on the field and wants to see their loved ones succeed. These reasons came to mind as I wondered about why I have fallen back in love with High School Football. I just get filled with nostalgia as I walk into a small stadium and think back to my own back in Sumrall, MS. Some of my earliest memories in life were made in the stands or on tracks of a high school stadium. It was the first place that I began to love sports. For these reasons, I never fail to connect with a high school game. I never fail to enjoy it.
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