Ready to line up: Mitchell anxious to get Jackets back on field
The Starkville Yellowjackets get ready to run a drill during a practice last season. The Jackets hit the field for preseason workouts on Monday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Starkville High School football coach Jamie Mitchell had a problem in the spring.
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He was dealing with the loss of a starting fullback, starting tight end, starting quarterback, and one starting wide receiver that put the Yellowjackets behind offensively.
"We're looking for some guys who can make plays," Mitchell said at the end of spring drills.
Even though Mitchell knows there are still some questions marks for his team, he likes how SHS stands going into preseason practice which begins Monday.
There's nothing like a little bit of success during the spring and summer to put a little pep in the step of high school players and coaches getting ready for the season.
After rallying to beat Columbus in the spring game and winning a 7-on-7 tournament in Jackson, Mitchell is encouraged about the Jackets and is anxious to get started.
"This is a time when everyone is undefeated, everyone is even and eager to get going," Mitchell said. "We couldn't be prouder of where we are and what our kids have done this summer.
"I certainly hope we're going to have a great fall camp."
As far as finding players to make plays, Mitchell began to see that happening in the spring and fall.
Starkville defeated Columbus 17-16 in the spring game when quarterback Gabe Myles hit receiver Jimmy Saulsberry for a winning 52-yard touchdown pass.
In the seven-on-seven tournament, Mitchell continued to like what he saw from his quarterbacks, Myles and Michael Newman, and defensive back Darius Grayer.
"(Grayer) is an upcoming sophomore that we're extremely high on," Mitchell said. "He had seven interceptions in that tournament. That's just unbelievable, not counting the balls he's batted down. We've found some guys we know are going to be very good in the secondary.
"It was good for Gabe and Mike, both quarterbacks, to get some reps and anytime you can throw live routes against somebody else and their coverages, you are going to get better so from the offensive standpoint, I thought it was great for our quarterbacks to find some other guys to make some plays for us on the offensive side as well."
The Jackets will have two practices per day on Monday, Thursday and Friday with only one on Tuesday and Wednesday and a scrimmage that's open to the public at 9 a.m. Saturday.
"We'd love for anybody to come watch," Mitchell said. "It will be our first chance to get into full pads."
Mitchell said a week of practice has been cut so it won't be long before Starkville opens the season at Noxubee County on Aug. 19.
That's a challenge the Jackets appear to be ready to accept with open arms.
"You don't have a lot of time but I think that's a good thing," Mitchell said. "The kids are ready and they want to get out there. It's been a long time so they're anxious to get lined up and ready to go."