Jackets not satisfied after first practice

Starkville High School running back Rodrigues Clark returns to the huddle after running a drill on the first day of preseason practice.

Staff Writer

It took months for Starkville High School players and coaches to get to the first day of fall practice, but it finally arrived on Monday afternoon and spirits were high for the Yellowjackets.

It’s the latest milestone on the redemption tour that the 2018 edition of the SHS gridiron gang as the Jackets are trying to play their way back to the Class 6A State championship and avenge a last minute loss to Pearl. To get to that point, they have a long way to go according to running back Rodrigues Clark.

“We’ve got a lot of getting better to do," Clark said. "We look alright as of right now. We’ve got to clean up the little things like just knowing your job.”

It’s the little things and the inability to get them right early that irritated coach Chris Jones the most. It’s nothing new for the second-year head man as he’s always looking for things to be done the right way all the time.

That’s just Jones’ nature and it’s one of the reasons why his teams contend for championships every season. As he mentioned, he and his staff have to demand those things to expect the results.

“I understand what’s at stake with us being number one," Jones said. "We’ve got to be twice as good and we can’t get complacent. We can’t overlook anything especially when we’ve been doing the same thing over and over. They got tired and sloppy with technique, but we’ll get better.”

Practice consisted of 30 periods on Monday afternoon beginning at 4 p.m. and the players enjoyed relatively decent weather than they’ve become accustomed to this summer. There was a slight breeze and low humidity for a late-July afternoon allowing everyone a chance for relief on opening day.

While the weather was a treat for all involved, it didn’t stop the coaches from demanding excellence. Business began for the Jackets the second the clock hit zero in Oxford in that state championship loss and they’re pushing the team for more the rest of the way.

With offseason conditioning out of the way it’s all about game one against Noxubee County for the Jackets from now until August 17. Of course, SHS will play its preseason jamboree against Louisville on August 10 in Winston County, but that game will be more about allowing the Jackets to get acclimated to a Friday night expectation.

Speaking of expectations, Jones is expecting more when the team hits the practice field today for the second session of the fall. He feels his veteran team should bounce back appropriately with a new attitude and a championship standard.

“I wasn’t ecstatic about it," Jones said about Monday's work. "I wasn’t pleased at all. (Today) we’ve got to come out with a purpose. I think guys were just out here going through the motions. I’ll take the blame because they’re going to follow our lead. Attendance was good. I just didn’t like the effort.”