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SMITH COLUMN: Run by Jackets in 5A, Region 2 deserves noting

November 7, 2012

Smith

The Starkville Yellowjackets have put together a pretty impressive two-year run in Class 5A, Region 2, District 6.

It doesn't matter what the competition, anytime a team can sweep all seven of its division opponents for two seasons in a row, there's a reason to take note.

The Jackets not only won all of their region games this season, but dominated in most cases. The defense did not allow an offensive touchdown in the first five region games.

Under coach Jamie Mitchell, SHS found a way to bounce back after losing three of four non-region games and was really never challenged in the region. The closest game the Jackets had was a 21-10 victory over Neshoba Central in the final regular season game.

SHS takes an overall record of 8-3 into the first round of the Class 5A playoffs where it hosts Saltillo.
The Jackets are set up to have another successful run in the playoffs and it would not be surprising to see that happen.

With senior leadership like Gabe Myles at quarterback and Preston Baker at running back on offense and David Fair on defense, Starkville has the pieces in place to win in the postseason.

The reason Myles, Baker and Fair can be singled out is because each of those players have played hurt at either part of or during the entire season.

Myles hurt his ankle injury early in the season, but has come back to play well. Baker suffered a severe ankle sprain against West Point on Sept. 7, but returned to be a significant player in the region. Fair has been playing on a bad knee all season long, but keeps going back on the field to give 100 percent.

When you see players give an extra effort, especially when you know they are hurting, it's hard not to respect them.

Credit must also be given to Mitchell and his staff for not allowing the Jackets to lose focus, especially after losing some tough games early to Noxubee County, Madison Central and West Point. All three of those teams have made the playoffs in its respective classifications.

It's hard to believe that we have reached the time of the year to be discussing playoffs.

Some of our area teams began the postseason last week with East Webster, Ackerman and Eupora all advancing in the Class 2A bracket, while Starkville Academy lost a 40-28 decision to Magnolia Heights in the opening round of the Class AAA-District 2 playoffs.

The Volunteers just ran up against a tough customer in Fernando VanHook of the Chiefs. It will not be a surprise to see Magnolia Heights defeat Heritage and win the state championship on Friday.

Starkville, East Webster, Ackerman and Eupora still have dreams alive for state titles. Don't forget about French Camp in the extreme northwest part of Choctaw County. It has been a great season for the Panthers as well.

There always seems to be at least one team that's not expected to capture a state crown.
It will be interesting to see if the area can produce one of those.

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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