Opposing viewpoint: Noxubee County

Staff Writer

It doesn’t matter what year it is, if the conversation about a state champion in Class 4A in the state of Mississippi happens, Noxubee County will be mentioned at the very top of the list.

The Tigers have become the team to beat just about every year in that classification and it’s thanks in large part to what coach Tyrone Shorter has sustained. Shorter was a key part of M.C. Miller’s staff in the 2000’s and took over the program in 2010 when Miller left for Louisville.

Though Miller did big things at the school, Shorter has taken it even further into the next level. All he’s done in his eight years is win four state championships and won three of the last four. He’s got a record of 95-24 and the train just keeps rolling this year.

As the Tigers enter season number nine under Shorter, they do so with a veteran team this season. They come into Friday’s contest with Starkville with their leading rusher from a season ago in senior Jaqualyn Smith, who went for 1,039 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago.

Noxubee County's most dangerous playmakers are its wide receivers. It starts with Mississippi State commitment Kyziah Pruitt, who racked up 83 catches for 1,230 yards and 13 touchdowns a season ago. That included nine catches and 99 yards in the opening game of the season against Starkville as Pruitt was the only one to get things going.

The Tigers also have Memphis commitment Maliek Stallings, who makes the offense extra dangerous as he gives them another option opposite of Pruitt.

Of course, the team’s bread and butter is the defense and, though they’re missing their top two tacklers from a season ago, they’ll reload there. Defensive lineman Chaokang Brooks, linebacker Trillo Brown and defensive back Keymarcus Jackson will be the cornerstone of the defense and players to watch on Friday night.

While this game has become one of the more fierce rivalries in the state, the outcome is not a direct indicator of how the season will go.

Starkville won last season’s game 43-3 at Noxubee and the Tigers turned around and won 11 of the final 14 games and another state title. In 2015, Starkville lost the opening game of the season in overtime at Noxubee, but won the rest of its games and a state title in Class 6A.

As Starkville defensive lineman Jalil Clemons said, he expects the best out of Noxubee County. He’s been playing against the same players for most of his life and knows the Tigers will give his Yellow Jackets a battle.

“I expect them to come out and go their hardest,” Clemons said. “I’m a Noxubee native so all of the players on the team are my friends and cousins. They compete.”

– Robbie Faulk