High school athletes at small schools learn sooner or later that they are going to have to double up to keep up.
That's the story at the county schools of Oktibbeha County as not only do East Oktibbeha and West Oktibbeha have participants in the Class A state track meet today, but are also finishing up spring football practice and participate in a jamboree Saturday at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.
The Titans have several players running track so getting time on the football field this spring has been difficult.
East Oktibbeha football and track coach Randy Brooks said those who run track are limited to mostly just conditioning work in football.
"We've been practicing now for a week and a half and we've got a good group of young guys out there," East Oktibbeha football and track coach Randy Brooks said about spring drills. "Of course, my track guys can't practice right now. Most of them are skill position guys and they are out practicing track but one of the things they do after track practice is they come by and show the younger guys what patterns to run based on which play is called and things like that.
"They'll have to play on Saturday."
The Titans play against Durant at 11 a.m. and Sumter County at 2 p.m., while the Timberwolves take on Saks (Ala.) at 6 p.m. and McLaurin at 8 p.m. The jamboree is being held at EMCC's new Sullivan-Windham Field and began on Thursday.
Coaches use the spring to help identify players who they can count on in the fall.
Scrimmages and spring games can help that process along.
West Oktibbeha High School football coach Adam Lowrey has never had one of his teams participate in a spring jamboree such as this and plans to use it to his advantage.
"We've got some new guys in who we feel like can play," Lowrey said. "We've just got to see what they can do. We're just going to try and build off what we accomplished last year. That's the main thing and we want to get better. We see a lot of room for improvement."
Back to the eastern part of the county, Brooks has been looking for those who will play "East Oktibbeha-style football." He expects to have a young team next fall and has already made several moves this spring. For example, the Titans have sophomore Justin Williams at quarterback and have moved Jalen Peterson from the offensive line to fullback.
The things Brooks emphasizes are playing hard-nosed, getting to the football, running backs running hard with linemen blocking and opening up holes.
East Oktibbeha looks to put all of those aspects of their game to work against Durant, who is coached by former East Oktibbeha coach and former Mississippi State quarterback William "Sleepy" Robinson.
Expect the Titans to keep the offense simple in the jamboree, especially with a sophomore signal caller at the controls.
"We're not going to run the single-wing offense because that's kind of complex for a new quarterback to run that," Brooks said. "That's something you have to put in over the summer, so our offense will be simplified. Our defense will be pretty much straight forward.
"Saturday will be interesting. I know Durant is going to run because that's what Coach Sleepy does."