Jamboree time: Jackets take their turn on the field Saturday night

Starkville High School head coach Chris Jones

Staff Writer

While it doesn’t account for wins or losses this weekend, pads are officially on and high school teams are playing games against others in preseason jamborees.

Starkville High School is hosting one of the state’s top jamborees this weekend and is set for an exciting day of action at Yellow Jacket Stadium. After a night of competitive games between Kemper County, West Lowndes, Noxubee County and Greenwood, Saturday is set for three more games that includes SHS capping things off Saturday night.

The Yellow Jackets will play host to longtime rival Louisville Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. after the Wildcats decided to move the jamboree they were set to host to Starkville due to weather and protecting the field. Coach Chris Jones knows all about the rivalry between the two teams having come up through the coaching ranks as an assistant in Louisville and playing for its coach M.C. Miller at Noxubee County.

That’s not going to drive him to do whatever it takes to win the jamboree tonight, however.

The game, in Jones’ mind, is secondary to keeping players healthy heading into next week’s season opener against Noxubee County. He plans on sitting several of the starters to make sure his first unit is completely ready for the start of the year.

“The only thing I’m looking for is that the effort is there, first and foremost,” Jones said of the jamboree. “We want them to play with the technique that we teach them to play. We’re not necessarily looking to score a bunch of points and we’re not game-planning for it. We want to see who is going to play hard. I couldn’t care less if they kept score.”

While he mentioned the outcome wasn’t important to him, Jones isn’t twiddling his thumbs Saturday night.

There’s still much to be taken away from the game like making sure the team understands snap counts and staying away from silly penalties. He’s also keeping a close eye on his younger players, many of which will get a large portion of the snaps. Tonight is an opportunity to get closer to seeing the field.

“I put more stock into those guys because you get another game film to evaluate,” Jones said. “Maybe by midseason, there might be a kid that could help us in special teams or could possibly start. You get a chance to gauge where things are for these kids that will be in JV (junior varsity). It’s a big deal for guys to try and be impressive so they can get an opportunity to move up the depth chart.”

Following Saturday night’s game, it is officially game week for the Jackets. Game one of the Jones era last season was a resounding 43-3 beatdown of his alma mater at Noxubee County. Despite that blowout win, he wasn’t happy with how his team came out of the gates.

This season he hopes that things are different when SHS comes out of the tunnel and takes the first snaps. Jones believes the Jackets are much more prepared than they were at this point a season ago.

“I think we’re further along than where we were last year," Jones said. "I think we’re pretty much on the same page and we know what we’re trying to get accomplished. Last year, I wasn’t impressed with the way we played against Noxubee even though we won. I just hope that we play how we’re capable of playing.”

Until that kickoff, fans are encouraged to come get their fill of football this weekend. Saturday’s schedule includes three-time defending Class A State champions Simmons taking on Newton at 3:30 p.m. followed by Newton taking on Leake Central at 5:30. Simmons plays Leake Central immediately following and Starkville will close the night out with a contest against the Wildcats of Louisville.

To experience the day of festivities, tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students at Yellow Jacket Stadium.