Less than a week after beginning preparations for the 2010 football season, it's evident there's a buzz around the Starkville High football program.
First-year SHS coach Jamie Mitchell led the Yellowjackets through a nearly two-hour long scrimmage on Saturday, and plenty of eyes captured it all.
"(The crowd) was awesome," said Mitchell. "We want people to come see us. I'm gonna say there were probably 100 fans here today, and for us that's big. That matters to these kids. They know who's over there and we're just tickled to death."
For both Mitchell, and the fans, there was plenty to observe. There were flashes of promise, as well as plenty of mistakes. But overall, Mitchell was pleased with what he saw.
"I thought our execution was pretty good," said Mitchell. "We didn't bust many formations, didn't bust much motion, defensive alignment I thought was pretty good. Now we've just got to get the effort to match that."
For the miscues the Jackets did have, such as a pair of late fumbles and some special teams difficulties, few could blame them after a week full of two-a-days. Even Mitchell seemed to empathize with his players.
"It's been a long week, but we're not going to make any excuses," said Mitchell. "We've got some tired guys and we're probably one of the few programs that still have two-a-days. But they've been through a lot this week. Mental fatigue is working on them, as well as physical fatigue."
Battling through the heat of the grinding two-a-days is a roster of 68 players. Mitchell says all 68 have stuck with it, and that can only mean good things for the SHS program.
"They're here everyday," said Mitchell. "All week, attendance has been outstanding, and that's where it starts. These guys have got to have some accountability and I've just been very pleased with that part of it."
Ultimately though, Mitchell wants to be pleased with the Jackets' play as well. They'll get their first test at Mississippi State's Scott Field on August 14 in an exhibition game against Callaway.
"We better get (the problems) fixed quick," said Mitchell. "We've got to get things cleaned up and I'm confident we will."
If Mitchell and his Jackets can keep battling and getting better, Mitchell says the fans will have good reason to keep showing up and supporting Starkville High.
"We want this community to get behind this football team," said Mitchell. "We understand in coaching that you've got to put a good product on the field, then people will come. That's our job to do. We hope they'll stick with us. We've got an uphill mountain to climb, but I like where we are."
SA softball wins pair of games
It didn't take long for the Lady Volunteers to answer their season opening loss.
One day after losing to Hebron in the head coaching debut of Jessica Dickens, Starkville Academy won two of their three games in the Heritage Invitational Saturday to even their season record at 2-2.
In the first game, Julianne Jackson surrendered just one hit and struck out 14 in a 19-0 win over Heritage Academy.
The Lady Vols followed that up with a 16-13 victory over Central Academy.
Wrapping up the day's action, SA fell to Oak Hill 8-3.
SA's Bailey Wofford was a combined 12-for-13 in the three games.
"I'm very pleased with the direction we're heading," said Dickens after Saturday's games. "We're learning as we go, but I'm really confident about where we are early in the season."
(For all the latest area prep sports news, visit the SDN's Area Prep Sports Blog, or follow preps reporter Joel Coleman on Twitter @JoelTColeman)