SMITH COLUMN: Starkville has success story with football
The success story of Starkville football continues.
Both schools in the city have or will play for state championships, while Mississippi State just won its third-straight Egg Bowl and became bowl eligible by beating Ole Miss 31-3 last Saturday.
Also of importance to this area, East Mississippi Community College, located just about a one-hour drive down Highway 45 South, competes for a national championship on Saturday.
These developments have made for quite an interesting year on the gridiron.
It's certainly been a pair of interesting turnaround seasons for the Starkville Yellowjackets and Starkville Academy Volunteers.
Both programs went from having losing records the previous season to winning double-digit games and landing in state championship games.
Starkville Academy got to the Class AAA-District II State Championship game on Nov. 11 and finished with a record of 10-3. The Vols were 3-8 last season.
After missing the playoffs by one game and having a 5-6 record last year, SHS stands 12-2 and takes on Picayune for the Class 5A State Championship this Saturday.
The Jackets have been soaking in all of the praise from winning the Class 5A North State title last Friday by defeating Ridgeland 28-7.
"It was fun getting out in the community with so many people complimenting us," Starkville football coach Jamie Mitchell said. "We're so pleased this football team has brought some happiness back (in Starkville) and some excitement back. There will be nothing better than to finish it off with a state championship."
Picayune will be a tough challenge for the Jackets, but there's no reason to think SHS can't just go ahead and finish out the season with a victory.
Mitchell has done an excellent job getting his team to believe it can win and even though Starkville Academy didn't quite achieve its goal of a state crown, coach Jeff Terrill has did an equally good job with his squad.
As far as MSU is concerned, there were higher expectations, but a 6-6 record with all losses coming to Auburn, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas isn't a very bad season. LSU and Georgia are playing for the Southeastern Conference Championship on Saturday, while Alabama will probably get LSU for the National Championship Game in January and there was Auburn, South Carolina and Arkansas that are or were ranked at some point this season.
MSU coach Dan Mullen has done a good job of getting the team in a position to play in its second-straight bowl. No official word yet, but it's looking like the Music City Bowl in Nashville and Liberty Bowl in Memphis are the front-runners to get the Bulldogs.
Once again Mullen's name has surfaced for a high-profiled job as Penn State seems to have him at the top of the list.
Mullen expressed once again on Tuesday that he was happy in Starkville and wasn't looking to leave. We'll see if that stance changes any in the upcoming days and he makes a similar move that his former boss Urban Meyer did when he went to Ohio State.
The stories continue and there's never a dull moment when considering what might happen.
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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