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Trying to win them all: Jackets can sweep region action back-to-back years

November 1, 2012

Seniors Gabe Myles (5) have been valuable piece for the Starkville High School offense during his career. (Photos by Kim Murrell, SDN)

The senior football players at Starkville High School can get out the brooms with a victory over the Neshoba Central Rockets tonight.

If the Yellowjackets can take care of business at home, they will cap back-to-back 7-0 seasons in Class 5A, Region 2, District 6. The kickoff against the Rockets is set for 7 p.m.

Starkville football coach Jamie Mitchell said much of the pressure has been taken off the final regular season game after wrapping up the region championship last week by defeating Jackson Callaway 34-16.

"Winning the division championship back-to-back was certainly one of our goals," Mitchell said. "We've got a chance to make it two years in a row to win all of our division games and that's important to us.

"This is a fun week for us with no pressure, no implications and we know we are going to be here next week. It will be senior night for our guys and hopefully, we can go out enjoy this one and not feel like you've got the weight of the world on you."

The Jackets (7-3 overall, 6-0 region) have not been challenged by region opponents this season and until last week against Callaway had not given up an offensive touchdown in region play.

"Realistically, they are the only real good team in our division," Neshoba Central coach Chuck Friend said. "I've seen every one of them now, so I can safely say that. You can see how the standings are jumbled up in our division. They've dominated it and taken care of business."

There will be 23 SHS seniors recognized for their contribution to the program tonight and it's a special group to Mitchell.

"This is the group I started with when I first got here," Mitchell said. "They were upcoming puppies in the 10th grade and a lot of these guys got to play football early on. It's paid off for us the last couple of years.

There are so many different personalities. You've got a locker room of 85 with 85 different personalities too, then you have 23 seniors and they make it enjoyable to come to work."

Two of those seniors on offense are quarterback Gabe Myles, a Mississippi State commitment, and running back Preston Baker.

Myles has completed 60-of-123 pass attempts for 796 yards and 10 touchdowns, while adding 82 carries for 328 yards and four more scores.

Baker is the second-leading rusher for the Jackets behind Jaquez Horsley with 434 yards on 71 carries and seven touchdowns.

Defensively, the SHS senior with the most tackles is Raphael McClain with 50. Senior linebacker David Fair, who has played on a bad knee all season, has 38 tackles.

The Rockets bring records of 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the region to Starkville.

Mitchell believes that two of Neshoba Central's losses could have been wins, which could have made a big difference in its records.

"They could very easily could have come in here at 5-1 instead of 3-3 with two games they should have won," Mitchell said. "They are going to be a quality opponent and we need that. We want our guys to play and they want to play, so we're going to put them out there and do what we can to try to win."

The Jackets are guaranteed at least one more game at home this season with the start of the playoffs next week.

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