Sound of cannon could be a good thing for Jackets
Starkville is expected to have sophomore running back Preston Baker (28) available for tonight's game against Southaven. Baker has been out with a fractured jaw. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
The ROTC plans to shoot a cannon off every time the Starkville Yellowjackets score during their Homecoming football game against the Southaven Chargers tonight.
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Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell wouldn't mind hearing the cannon go off frequently.
Even though its Homecoming, the Jackets face a tough opponent as the Chargers bring records of 6-1 overall and 2-1 in Class 6A, Region 1 into the 7 p.m. matchup.
"It's one of those deals where we have a tremendously good football team coming in here," Mitchell said. "I tell the players to have confidence and we've played as tough a schedule there is and these next four are as tough as they come."
As does any coach, there's a certain measure of concern that surrounds Homecoming week.
On one hand, the coaches don't want to deprive players of the fun that comes with Homecoming activities, but they also want them to be focused on the task of winning the football game.
"Homecoming encompasses a lot of different activities," Mitchell said. "It's fun for the student body and fun for the school. All of those things are great and good, but our part is that football game and what matters to us is between 7 (p.m.) and 9 (p.m.). We'll enjoy the week and all the festivities, but at the same time, we're in the middle of a heated division race and that's what matters."
At 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the region, Starkville stands second in the region standings behind defending Class 6A state champion South Panola.
Mitchell has stressed the importance of reaching the playoffs since taking the head coaching position with the Jackets and he believes getting a fourth win in the region will go a long way in making that happen.
"Our ultimate goal since we started was to get into the playoffs and we feel like if we get that fourth win locked up, then you can start working on seeding and where you're going to go," Mitchell said. "We can't talk about that until we get that fourth win."
Mitchell looks to players like quarterback Jaquez Johnson, running back Garrett Smith, fullback Jakarta Agnew, tight end Martavius Foster, wide receiver Shaquille Hill and others to help the Jackets get that fourth region victory.
Johnson has accounted for 1,198 yards of total offense with 815 yards through the air and 383 more yards on the ground. Smith leads Starkville in rushing with 468 yards on 56 carries, while Foster is the top receiver with 12 catches for 267 yards.
The Jackets got some good news this week as sophomore running back Preston Baker has been cleared to play by doctors. Baker suffered a fractured jaw in the first game of the season against Noxubee County.
"We're glad to have him back and we're trying to figure out how we can utilize him right now,"
Mitchell said. "It's hard when you've got one who has missed seven weeks. You just start trying to get him back in here or there."