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An official eye of the Jackets proves helpful

August 4, 2012

SHS football coach Jamie Mitchell, middle, observes kicking drills on Saturday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

It was an official view at the Starkville High School football practice field Saturday morning.

The Yellowjackets went through an approximate two-hour scrimmage which was complete with officials and chain managers.

Following the scrimmage, SHS football coach Jamie Mitchell made it a point to introduce the players to the officials so everyone could get on the same page before the season begins in two weeks.

"They are vitally important and we need to get them all out here more often," Mitchell said. "They see things they are instructed to call. Anytime we can get their eyes out here, it helps us very much so."

The officials held an extended post-scrimmage conference with the Yellowjackets.

Starkville quarterback and defensive back Gabe Myles, a Mississippi State commitment, said the team benefitting from getting a lesson from the officials prior to the games meaning something.

"They just wanted us to know what to expect from them this year and make sure we stay in the right," Myles said. "They wanted to make sure if the receivers are on and off (the line of scrimmage) and gave us pointers about not holding."

For the most part, the yellow flags stayed in the pocket of the officials, but the football ended up on the ground more than Mitchell would have liked.

The Jackets had trouble in the snapping department whether it was getting the football to the quarterback, to the punter, and to the holding on extra point and field goal attempts.

That area worried Mitchell prior to the opening of preseason practice and it continues to be a concern.

"I'm embarrassed that we are not further along than we are with that, but it became brutally obvious (Saturday)," Mitchell said. "We've got to go back to the drawing board and somebody somewhere has got to get the ball to the punter. That's my number one priority. I think the centers will get adjusted and our quarterback-center exchanges will be OK, but our long snapping and short-snapping on extra point and field goal is an issue."

When snaps were executed on offense, the SHS unit showed what it could do as Myles and backup quarterback Chris Wilson were able to complete passes to receivers.

Myles was effective in completing short passes to running backs Preston Baker and Stanley Higgins. Princeton Jones, Raphael Leonard and Kentrell Spencer were on the receiving end of some throws throughout the scrimmage. Toward the end, Spencer broke a long run after a catch.

"I thought early on offensively we looked sharp and crisp," Mitchell said. "We are where we can two platoon now and nobody is on both sides of the ball. That makes a big different in coaching. Our guys are competing and I thought it was a pretty good day, certainly could have been better, but we'll take it."

The Yellowjackets have a week to get ready for a scrimmage against New Hope in Columbus Saturday night.

Even though there some work that must be done, Myles is ready for the next stage.

"Anytime there's competition, it's good competition," Myles said. "Nobody is perfect in the first scrimmage and there is always room for improvement. I believe if we keep working hard, we will get there."

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