SHS football begins spring practice

Starkville coach Chris Jones
Staff Writer

Shortly after Chris Jones and his team walked off of the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford last December 1, the work was beginning to get back to the state championship game.

The Yellowjackets came up just short of securing another trophy for the football complex when Pearl was able to get a game-winning touchdown in the final minute for a 21-17 victory. Jones declared that night that his team would be back and the offseason has been built around that statement.  

“I think one of the main things is that, coming off that loss, it made us a better team," Jones said. "We’re hungrier and more focused on the attention to detail on the little things that got us beat. We want to be high energy in workouts. We’re trying to set the standard high each day.”

That’s been the energy that the Jackets have brought in the weight room for the last several months and it’s about to continue on the practice field today. The start of spring practice has arrived for a team that has been eager to get back to a place that it has been familiar.

It helps that they have that hunger to avenge the tough loss heading into the spring, but it also helps that this is year two for Jones.

The Jackets are familiar with what the coach and his staff expect out of them on a daily basis. He also has a large group of players that have been in the program now and are leading the way for the younger group.

“I think that our spring will be good being year two,” Jones said. “All of the kids have bought into the process. Everyone knows what to expect. Year one is always the evaluation year and I feel like we exceeded expectations last year, but year two will be better. The kids understand what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Jones, who was selected the head coach for the North team in the Benard Blackwell All-Star game to take place after the season, said that the team’s health is good outside of one major injury.

Senior safety Benard Thomas tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and just had a successful surgery last week.

“We were expecting big things from him so that’s a tough blow for us and he’s in our thoughts," Jones said. "He’s got several offers for the next level so if he doesn’t get a lot of time with us this year, it isn’t the end. We hope to have him back in October for the stretch run. Everybody else will be good to go. It’s been a good offseason other than that one major injury.”

SHS will start today at 2:30 p.m. on the practice fields and go through the second week in May. The Jackets culminate their spring by hosting a 16-team jamboree at Yellowjacket Stadium. The event was originally scheduled to take place at Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium, but a conflict with some work on the stadium grounds interfered.

The two-day event on May 11-12 will include Louisville, Columbus, Noxubee County, Whitehaven (Tenn.) and more.