Jacket head coach Jamie Mitchell and his team celebrated a state runner-up season with a banquet Sunday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
It was a time of celebration and remembrance for the Starkville High School football program Sunday night.
The Yellowjackets looked back at an unbelievable run to the state championship with a banquet at the Starkville Sportsplex.
"It was just a culmination of an unbelievable year," head coach Jamie Mitchell said. "Anybody that plays (this game) that's there ultimate goal, to play for the state championship and we were able to do that. Just a great opportunity to look back and remember some of the memories we had. Certainly honor some of the great players that we had."
The awards were voted on by the players.
Although the night was for celebration, there was a time during the program where a player was remembered.
Running back Devin Mitchell passed away on Jan. 1. Tyrone Ellis of the Mississippi House of Representatives was on hand to give a Resolution in Devin's memory.
Devin won the Most Valuable Offensive Player. He has been described as a great football player, but was also described as an "MVP outside of football."
"He was an awesome kid," Jamie Mitchell said. "Just a great player. His numbers speak for themselves. He scored a touchdown in every 4.1 or 4.2 or times he touched the ball. He was just a main cog in our offense. He is going to be terribly missed, certainly athletically but more than that his presence and the way he carried and conducted
Devin's family was on hand at the event. Jamie Mitchell intends to keep a close relationship with the family.
"We have stayed close to them," Jamie Mitchell said. "It has been an extremely trying time on their family. My goal is to make sure Devin's memory is always here. He will be a senior with them next year."
Quarterback Gabe Myles racked up a lot of honors. He made the Region 2-5A team and was the region player of the year. He made the All-State team and won the 5A State Offensive Player of the Year.
Myles was also named Most Valuable Player for the Jackets.
"He is really one of those kids that nobody really knew about coming into the year," Jamie Mitchell said. "He came out of nowhere. Simply because he missed all last year hurt. He wasn't a quarterback a year ago. He was our back up. To come on and have the kind of year you just don't see that often. Most of those guys earn a little bit the year
before and then have that break out year.
"I think that is most impressive as anything; he never taken a high school snap at quarterback before the (season we just ended). It was big play after big play, whether he did it with his feet or his arm. Just a great competitor and a great leader for us."
Myles prepared himself over the summer and throughout the year to lead his team.
"I knew I was capable because it takes hard work," Myles said. "I was putting in extra work in the summer."
He also knew he could not have gotten very far without his teammates.
"Blessed," Myles said of receiving so many awards. "Thankful to all my coaches and teammates. None of that would have happened with out the big boys up front. It feels good. Me getting this award says how a good job the offensive line did."
Three seniors were chosen as captains during the ceremony. Long snapper and center Kelvin Young, defensive end Latajh Bush and cornerback Stanley Childs earned the three captain positions.
Bush was moved to a different position his junior year and decided to quit. He came back his senior year.
"You just don't see that much," Jamie Mitchell said of Bush. "He is a great kid. We all make mistakes. We were able to get him back this year. I think it worked out great for both of us. You don't believe football changes lives, he is a by product of that."
Along with Myles, Stanley Higgins, Jimmy Saulsberry, Devin Mitchell, Preston Baker and Jawon Johnson were selected to the first-team All-Region offense.
The region team was selected by coaches in the region.
Dennis Ware, Eric Rogers, Cory Cannon, Johnny Smith and Stanley Childs were picked to the first-team All-Region defense.
LaDorious Pittman was chosen to the second-team All-Region offense and Devonta Davis, Jacoby Smith, Taylor Johnston and Latajh Bush were chosen second-team defense.
Honorable Mention players were Kelvin Young, Kirk Kinnard, Princeton Jones, Justin Ware and Kyle Jones.
Nine of 11 defensive starters made the All-Region team, something that doesn't surprise Jamie Mitchell and makes him proud.
"That's why we made it to Jackson," Jamie Mitchell said. "Our defense carried us all year long, and they did a great job."
Along with Myles, Cory Cannon, Erick Rogers, Johnny Smith and Jawon Johnson made the Class 5A All-State Team. These players were selected by the Mississippi Football Coach's Association.
Johnson won the Best Offensive Lineman award, Saulsberry won the Best Receiver, Baker won the the Best Offensive Back and Josh Kitchens won the Most Improved Offensive Player.
On the defensive side of the ball, Cannon won the Best Defensive Lineman, Dennis Ware won the Best Linebacker, Smith won the Best Defensive Back Player, Rogers won the Most Valuable Defensive Player and Justin Ware and Johnston won the Most Improved Defensive Players.
Murphy Buckner won the Offensive Scout Team and Marlow Rogers won the Defensive Scout Team awards.
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