Thursday, August 1, 2013
Football practice starts Monday
By BARRY BURLESON
The calendar flips to a new month this week, bringing with it high school football.
H.W. Byers, Potts Camp, Holly Springs and Byhalia start practice next Monday, Aug. 5.
Games start a few weeks later.
All but the Lions will play in jamborees August 16. The regular season kicks off August 23.
New coach Chris Daniels has gotten to know his team during the summer – through seven-on-seven and other workouts.
He said he chose not to play in a jamboree because, “We need that Friday for practice.”
He said his team has to get the basics down with focus on learning new offensive and defensive schemes.
“That’s the main reason we’re not participating in a jamboree,” Daniels said.
The Lions competed in seven-on-seven at Potts Camp, DeSoto Central and Hernando this summer.
“That helped them gain confidence,” he said. “We held our own. Toward the end of the seven-on-seven, we were pretty good. Of course, seven-on-seven can be deceiving.”
He hopes to have about 30 players when practice begins next week.
“If so, we won’t have to have everybody going both ways (offense and defense) because it will be extremely hot starting the year out,” Daniels said.
He said the first game is the biggest. The Lions travel to neighboring Benton County August 23.
“There’s a big difference between 1-0 and 0-1,” Daniels said. “We’re focused on August 23. It’s a step-by-step process to get better before then.”
The Lions will play in Division 2-2A with Potts Camp, Coahoma AHS, Coahoma County, Strayhorn and West Tallahatchie.
Coach Shane Stone returns a good core of starters as the Cardinals leave the independent ranks and battle for a playoff berth for the first time ever. They will also compete in Division 2-2A.
“We have a nucleus to build around,” said Stone, whose squad will practice twice a day next week.
Some top returnees include Jordon Harris, Jarvis Jones, Shunn Smith, Hunter Snow and Jonathan Green.
“We just have to try and get our people in the right places – especially on defense,” he said. “We have questions to be answered there.”
Stone will also be tweaking a few things offensively to suit the personnel.
“We’re looking at a few new things and we have to get a lot of reps,” he said. “There will be a learning curve.”
He expects about 32 players.
“We have some guys who should be able to step in and fill some spots,” Stone said.
Potts Camp faces Okolona on Friday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. in jamboree action at Ole Miss. The Cards open the regular season August 23 at Hamilton.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs, and then we will go from there,” Stone said.
The building process continues for coach Chris Rankin at Holly High. He will enter his second season as head coach after moving up from assistant.
He said this is a crucial season for the Hawks.
“We have a chance to get some good things going due to the core we have,” Rankin said. “This group has talent, works hard and has the desire to do things the right way. If the ball rolls right, I think we can have a good year.”
The Hawks go to Horn Lake for a jamboree August 16.
“With the jamboree being so close, we have to start rockin’ and rollin’ on game plans and things like that,” he said.
His offensive and defensive formations will basically go unchanged.
“We may add a few new wrinkles,” he said.
“We worked harder on the passing game in the summer, but we’re still going to run the football.
“Defensively, we worked on some of our weaknesses, too (like pass coverage).”
Rankin has a strong base of starters returning on both offense and defense.
“We played a bunch of young guys last year, and the varsity kids should be ready to roll,” he said. “We’re getting the JV on board as far as how we do things. That way we can continue to build the program.”
The Hawks will kick off the regular season by hosting cross-county rival Byhalia August 23.
They will compete in Division 2-3A with Charleston, Independence, M.S. Palmer, North Panola and Water Valley.
In Indian territory, coach John Danley is replacing 11 starters, nine of those moving on to play college football.
“Any team that loses that many starters, it will be hard to replace them,” he said. “But an improved JV program will help with that transition. I believe some of those guys are prepared to help the team.
“The offensive line will be young but the skill guys (backs and receivers) should be very good.”
Byhalia, moving up a classification to 4A, should be about 55 players strong.
“We had about 40 regularly this summer in the weight room every day,” Danley said.
“We will have a young team but at the same time we will have some experience. We have a lot of key guys returning.”
Those include Markeise Rodgers, Antonio Wilson, Curtis Akins, Chris Rayford and Caleb Grant. Rayford has committed to Mississippi State and Grant to Memphis. Coach Danley said he believes Akins, who has several college offers, “is the best linebacker in the state.”
The Indians will compete in Division 2-4A with Lafayette, New Albany, Ripley, Rosa Fort and Senatobia.
“I think we’re prepared for it,” he said. “We made great strides in 3A (including a playoff win last season).
“I think in the past we might have feared some schools because of name, but I think we’ve turned the corner from that.”
The Indians host DeSoto Central in a jamboree August 16. They then travel a few miles east to Holly Springs for the opener August 23.
All public school games, regular season and playoffs, kick off at 7 p.m. this year, according to the Mississippi High School Activities Association.
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