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DANNY P. SMITH: Sophomores are shining in the area

October 13, 2010

There are some emerging sophomores in local high school football who should continue to give fans thrills over the next few years.
Two of them are quarterbacks in the western part of the Starkville Daily News coverage area as Von Smith has put up some amazing numbers for the West Oktibbeha Timberwolves and Jamal Roby has done some nice things for the Eupora Eagles.
Roby came up big when his team needed to bounce back last Friday.
In the Eagles' 42-21 Homecoming victory over the Hamilton Lions, Roby completed all four of his pass attempts for 104 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown to another sophomore Derick Jones.
Roby also showed an ability to run with 10 carries for 92 yards against Hamilton and two touchdown runs of 22 and 5 yards.
The performance was instrumental for Eupora to help ease the pain from a 27-0 loss to East Webster the week before.
At 4-3 overall and 1-1 in Class 2A, Region 2, the Eagles are still in position to earn a playoff spot. Once a team reaches the playoffs, anything can happen. Maybe even a rematch with the rival Wolverines.
No matter how far Eupora is able to ride its young talent for the remainder of this season, the prospects of a good three-year run are good in the Webster County town.
Not very far down the road to the east is the high-octane offense of West Oktibbeha led by Smith.
There's no question, even as a sophomore, that Smith has the inside track to Starkville Daily News Area Player of the Year honors.
It's not difficult to come to that conclusion by considering the numbers.
Smith has completed 114 of 195 pass attempts (59 percent) for 2,095 yards with 22 touchdowns and only two interceptions through eight games. It will be interesting to see if Smith can reach the 3,000-yard passing mark before the end of the season.
The Timberwolves need Smith to be on top of his game Friday night as they host Nanih Waiya in a key Class A, Region 3 game.
Even after a loss to Weir two weeks ago, a win by West Oktibbeha against Nanih Waiya can keep it right in the hunt for a division title.
There's one more sophomore worth mentioning here who showed up in a big way over the weekend for the Starkville Yellowjackets.
In Starkville's 49-19 victory at Horn Lake last Friday, Devin Mitchell accounted for over 300 all-purpose yards. He had touchdown runs of 49 and 57 yards for the Jackets, then capped the win with an 82-yard kickoff return for a score.
So exactly where did Mitchell come from and where had he been all season?
"He started at linebacker first the whole year and has been a very good sophomore player for us," Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said on Wednesday. "Devin is the fastest player we've got and he's been behind Jakarta Agnew at fullback. Devin is a gifted young man, but we like Jakarta and he's a little more physical, plus he's two years older."
Coach Mitchell said Devin is just one of several talented sophomores he's trying to work into the system, but doesn't want to overload younger players with too much responsibility.
SHS already has players like quarterback Jaquez Johnson, running back Garrett Smith and others who have shown an ability to make plays. Now the Jackets add Devin Mitchell to the mix.
Another playmaker will be welcomed as Starkville prepares to host Southaven in an important Class 6A, Region 1 game Friday night.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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