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SMITH COLUMN: It's going to be tough to top 2010

January 2, 2011

The local sports scene in 2010 was filled with all kind of interesting news from the good, the bad and the ugly.
There was the thrill of the Starkville High School boys basketball team winning the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A state
championship and the Grand Slam title, the success the Mississippi State Bulldogs enjoyed during the football season and the unfortunate incident of MSU basketball teammates Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey getting into a fight in Hawaii just a little over a week ago.
It will be hard for 2011 to top the series of events that were witnessed last year, but it's time to see what happens.
The thing that could be the most interesting thing to observe will be how Starkville High School competes in Class 5A, Region 2 next football season.
Gone are opponents like South Panola, Southaven, Olive Branch and Columbus within the division, replaced with the likes of Lanier, Provine, Ridgeland, Neshoba Central and others.
Even though it's going to be difficult for SHS football coach Jamie Mitchell to replace a quarterback like Jaquez Johnson, who played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic, and linebacker D.J. Jordan, a member of the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game roster, the change in classification and the new division alignment seems to work in the favor of the Yellowjackets from a competitive standpoint.
Before the SHS basketball team makes that move, it looks to defend its Class 6A crown in the next couple of months.
The Jackets are off to a 10-2 start after suffering a 52-50 loss to Corinth in Booneville right before the Christmas break.
After playing in the Meridian Tournament during the midweek, Starkville takes on South Panola Friday to continue the division slate. The Jackets defeated the Columbus Falcons earlier in the season.
With players like Gavin Ware, Michael Brand, Calvin Young and others, Starkville is talented enough to make another run to the state tournament and win it.
Mississippi State just completed its football season with Saturday's appearance in the Gator Bowl.
After the Bulldogs defeated the Michigan Wolverines 52-14 in such an impressive way, it will be important how the program uses the momentum of that win moving forward to next season.
Some of the key components of the offense returns in quarterback Chris Relf, running backs Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins, and wide receiver Chad Bumphis, who had to sit out the Gator Bowl due to a collarbone injury. The big question mark will be the offensive line, especially with losing the anchor of the unit in tackle Derek Sherrod.
There will also be some holes to fill on defense with the departures of linebackers K.J. Wright and Cellular South Conerly Trophy winner Chris White.
With these points to consider, MSU head coach Dan Mullen will be presented with the challenge of doing as well or better than nine wins next season.
As we begin 2011, I would like to express my appreciation to everyone who has made my first year as sports editor of The Starkville Daily News a very rewarding experience.
The list of people who have been helpful to me would be too long to list here, but they know who they are. I would like to single out the dynamic duo of Matthew Stevens and Joel Coleman, as well as correspondent James Carskadon, who provided the coverage of the Gator Bowl from Jacksonville, Fla., for your reading pleasure in today's SDN. Their assistance over the last year has been very valuable to what we do here.
It's the desire of our staff to keep bringing our readers the best local sports coverage possible.
Thanks again for your support and Happy New Year.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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