For the Water Valley Blue Devils and Lafayette Commodores, the time to be clicking on all cylinders is now, as both teams begin their respective runs at Class 3A and Class 4A state titles.
The Oxford Chargers will also hit the gridiron tonight, concluding their regular season with a road game at Saltillo. (November 5, 2010, Page 6A)
In Ole Miss’ exhibition opener against West Georgia at the C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum on Thursday night, it was fellow freshman Pa’Sonna Hope, that stole the show. The Cleveland, Ohio, native recorded game-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds as Ole Miss routed the Wolves 86-36. (November 5, 2010, Page 6A)
Ole Miss fans first glimpse of the men’s basketball team comes tonight at C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum against Delta State. Tipoff for the exhibition game is set for 7.
For Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, the exhibition game is a chance to expand on work that was started in scrimmage work that he said was productive. (November 5, 2010, Page 6A)
The Lafayette bowling team will open its season Tuesday against Itawamba AHS in Tupelo. The varsity girls team includes Allena Bratton, Briana Clarkson, Desiree Jones, Ginny Kate Lofton, Paige Moore, Shamanda Price, Courtney Sharp, Taylor Tubbs, Alexis Sherman, Grace Watts, Sharvae Williams and Katelyn Wingon.
The boys team includes Sherman Bowles, Robert Gage, Tyler Hynous, Clint Lokey, Tyler Odom, Andrew Smith, Jamie Todd, Alex Watts, Jordan Willms and Allen Bratton. LHS coach Vicki Lokey said she is looking forward to another great season and anticipating another trip to Jackson for the state playoffs. (November 5, 2010, Page 6A)
The No. 1 team in Class 4A is who other 4A teams really, really want to beat in this year’s playoffs. Don’t get me wrong, teams that were fortunate enough to make the playoffs want to beat whoever they play, but if the team in front of them happens to be LHS, so much the better.
Lafayette is this year’s St. Stanislaus, the perfect team with all the star players that other teams hear so much about. In essence, the Commodores have gone from the team that nobody really knew much about to the team that everyone is gunning to knock off.
LHS coach Anthony Hart talked about what it means to be the top team in 4A entering the playoffs and how his team has to play because of that extra attention compared to last year.
“The only difference is sometimes you get nervous when you’re sitting there on top and everybody else is gunning for you. Last year we were down the ladder and we were gunning for everybody else. That just gives you a slightly different perspective on it,” Hart said. “You are what you are and where you are is where you are. You have to deal with it and play from that angle. We have to go out there and take everybody’s best shot every Friday like we have all year, play our game and just execute.”
Nothing will be easy
It sounds simple enough, but it won’t be. There won’t be anything easy about this year’s playoff run for the Commodores. That’s not saying the team can’t continue to reel off lopsided wins like they have in the regular season. LHS is as talented as any team in the state in any classification. But the difference, as Hart pointed out, is the extra attention, the extra pressure of winning because you’re supposed and where the Commodores lie in the bracket, something Hart said looked quality even though he tries not to look ahead too much.
“I feel like we’re in the toughest spot of the bracket we can be in. I feel like we’ve got the best No. 4 team in the North by far with North Pontotoc,” Hart said. “In North 4A, no matter where you are in the bracket, you’re going to run into somebody that’s quality pretty soon. North Pontotoc is a lot better than people give them credit for. As far as down the line, you’ve got a lot of good teams in 4A. I said that at the start of year.”
For Lafayette quarterback Jeremy Liggins and linebacker Kris Miller, the start of the playoffs mean competing against better teams rather than extra pressure to perform.
“I do feel like we’re the target because we’re No. 1 and because of last year, so everybody wants to beat us. I feel good about the team because I know we’re going to come out here and take it one game at a time. That’s why we have to come out and play hard each week,” Miller said. “The main thing is to stay focused. I know with the playoffs coming around, everybody is going to be 100 percent. It’s always good to play competition to see how good your talent is. You’re not getting any competition when you’re blowing folks out. Now we have to play a whole four quarter game. I want to see if I still got the breath.”
“In practice we try to come out with more momentum because we know it’s win or go home now,” Liggins said about the playoffs. “We’re not trying to go home. We’re trying to go back where we were last year but be on the other side of it. (Teams) are really looking at us because we went to state last year. We’ve just about go all our starters back on both sides of the ball and teams know we’re going to come out hard. We just have to do what we do.”
Impressive last two years
What the Commodores have done over the almost two full seasons is amazing. There have only been two losses over that time period and 25 wins. The football playoffs in this state, any state, are extremely tough.
It’s the ultimate test for football players because of the emotion involved each week. We all felt that emotion last year and it will be even more amplified this run.
I expect LHS to run the table in the North and then capture a state title in Jackson early next month. I think this team is too focused not to win it all. They know people are gunning for them, they hear people around town talk about how talented they are and they still perform. They haven’t gotten a big head, and I don’t think they will now with the prize so close. It should be an interesting ride these next five weeks, and one I’m looking forward to seeing how things really shape out. (November 5, 2010, Page 7A)
The Oxford Middle School girls and boys basketball teams earned two wins on Thursday in the OHS gym. The seventh-grade Chargers beat Water Valley 22-5 and the eighth-grade Chargers topped the Blue Devils 30-11.
The seventh-grade Lady Chargers defeated Water Valley 19-9 while the eighth-grade girls won 32-13. (November 5, 2010, Page 7A)
Experience is something Oxford High boys basketball coach Drew Tyler has always had working for him during his previous 13 years. No matter how many players graduated from the super successful program, Tyler was always able to reload and move forward.
But for the first time in recent memory, Tyler will rely on several inexperienced players to win games on the court. Oxford, which opens its season Monday at home against Potts Camp, has four seniors and six juniors listed on its roster, but only three have played substantial varsity minutes, a fact that makes Tyler call the 2010-11 season more of a rebuilding season than one where he reloads. (November 5, 2010, Page 7A)
A strong defensive unit that is anchored in the middle by nose guard John Jenkins is what the No. 4 Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers will have to try and overcome when they host No. 12 Gulf Coast at Bobby Franklin Field.
NWCC (9-0 overall) is two wins away from winning the MACJC state title, but in order to face Co-Lin or East Mississippi in that title game Nov. 13, the Rangers will have dispatch the Bulldogs (7-2) in the first-round of the playoffs on Saturday. (November 5, 2010, Page 8A)
A super talented Lafayette Commodore football team will look to take its next steps to winning a Class 4A state championship Friday night with a first-round playoff game against North Pontotoc at William L. Buford Stadium.
From LHS coach Anthony Hart’s perspective, the start of the playoffs has made his already focused team even more prepared for the task of winning five more games which would give them the school’s first state title. (November 4, 2010, Page 6)
The Blue Devils’ lack of perfection was attributed in part to the team looking past the Troopers and to their first-round opponent in the Class 3A playoffs.
WVHS coach Brad Embry said earlier this week he’s expecting his team to be refocused on Friday when the Blue Devils (9-2 overall) host the Corinth Warriors (4-6) to open their 2010 playoff run. (November 4, 2010, Page 6)
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