Jackets would rather play than have open date
Starkville football coach Jamie Mitchell, left, has a discussion with an official during an earlier game this season. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
One thing the open date for the Starkville High School Yellowjackets has been able to do is give head coach Jamie Mitchell and his staff a chance to evaluate some of the younger talent of the program.
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The junior varsity squad picked up another victory against Columbus on Monday night and Mitchell saw some players that might be called upon to help the varsity in the near future.
"We're finally getting our program where we'd like for it to be," Mitchell said. "We feel like we've got a good junior varsity program. Those guys work so hard that it gives them a chance to get out and compete."
With the season-ending injuries Starkville has faced in recent weeks, Mitchell is looking for some younger players to step up in key roles.
Mitchell said if junior varsity Jackets play well on Mondays, they will be worked in on special teams with the varsity and so on.
"That's how the transformation happens," Mitchell said.
Two players that have caught Mitchell's eye are sophomore linebackers Oshea Kemp and Marlo Rogers.
With starting linebackers David Fair (knee) and J.B. Barriare (ankle) going down with injuries, Mitchell said the roles for players like Kemp and Rogers could increase.
"We are pleased where both of them are," Mitchell said. "They've both got to get bigger and stronger. They may be undersized right now, but both are doing a good job."
The junior varsity Jackets will be back in action at home Monday against West Point.
"That will be a big one for them obviously," Mitchell said. "It's an opportunity for a lot of guys to get out there on the field and see what they can do."
Other than the rest factor, there's nothing else that Mitchell likes about an open date.
Mitchell was honest in saying, he'd rather be preparing to play Friday.
Mitchell calls coaches and coaches call Mitchell to get advice on how to handle an open date, but they recognize that there's not a good answer.
"I hate it and I don't know many coaches in this state that like it," Mitchell said. "You get into a routine and it seems every year you push the pause button for a week.
"We're going to work four days this week. We're lifting weights hard this week and are trying to work on some strength training and work that aspect. There are a lot of fundamentals for us, but we'd much rather be getting ready to play somebody.
"We'll just have to deal with it, but we'll be glad when Monday gets here so we can get back into game week routine."
Starkville played without sophomore center Ryan Minor in its 33-12 loss to West Point. Mitchell confirmed this week that his hand was broken and was put in a cast.
"We don't know what we're going to do with him," Mitchell said. "It's his right hand and when you have a cast on your right hand, you can't snap the football."
Mitchell also said that senior tight end Scotie Pittman broke his collar bone against the Green Wave so that's two key seniors, a junior and a sophomore that will be out of action for the Jackets.
"That's four severe injuries, but we've got to keep rolling," Mitchell said.