Starkville High quarterback Gabe Myles throws a pass in an intrasquad scrimmage last Saturday. SHS will face McComb in a jamboree matchup Saturday at MSU's Davis Wade Stadium. (Photo by Joel Coleman, SDN)
By DANNY P. SMITH,
It's only a week before high school football teams around the area and state open the 2011 season.
Before that anticipated time comes, programs have just a few more days to prepare and several will use jamborees this weekend to get a few more questions answered.
It will be an opportunity to measure up against another opponent.
"You get to see how you do against a different color jersey," Starkville High School coach Jamie Mitchell said. "This time of year that's what you want to do."
The Yellowjackets are involved in the New Hope Jamboree on the Mississippi State campus Saturday. Starkville takes on McComb in the third scrimmage of the day at 3 p.m.
Mitchell welcomes the test McComb presents one week prior to opening the season at Noxubee County on Aug. 19.
"(McComb is) going to be very athletic," Mitchell said. "We've got a couple of films on them from last year and talked to coaches to gather a little bit of information. We certainly don't treat it as a game week, but for our guys to get in that atmosphere is an awesome experience for them.
"To be at Scott Field and have that opportunity is a great thing that State is allowing to go on. Certainly we'll answer some questions out there Saturday on who can do what."
The other matchups at MSU includes West Point against Louisville at 11 a.m., Aberdeen against Morton at 1 p.m., Noxubee County against Columbus at 5 p.m. and New Hope against Philadelphia at 7 p.m.
The format for the action will be two quarters of varsity followed by one quarter of junior varsity. Admission will be $5.
West Oktibbeha hosted a jamboree against Montgomery County in 2010 and the Timberwolves went on to have a six-win season.
Head coach Adam Lowrey hopes repeating that path leads to additional success for West Oktibbeha this year.
The Timberwolves are scheduled to work against McAdams in Maben tonight. The jamboree is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Lowrey said his program is in the same boat as McAdams and expects the scrimmage to benefit both programs.
"With both of us having so short numbers, it gives us an opportunity to go ones against ones," Lowrey said.
Lowrey has been pleased with the work West Oktibbeha has put forth since preseason drills began less than two weeks ago.
"We've been working them pretty hard and they have been answering to the challenge," Lowrey said. "It's not easy because we're pretty non-stop during practice. We've actually cut out running at the end of practice because we are so fast-paced during practice."
Even though it's still considered practice and not a real game where the score is kept, Lowrey still expects to see a little more pep in the step of the Timberwolves.
"As regards to our players, it's competition based so they're into it," Lowrey said. "It's a good thing all the way around."
East Oktibbeha head coach Randy Brooks is anxious to see exactly where his team stands coming into the 2011 season. Brooks will get a good understanding of how his team fares in the face of competition today when the Titans travel to Philadelphia to play J.J. McClain in a jamboree beginning at 4:45 p.m.
"We're going to use this to really see where we're at," said Brooks. "We'll see where we are at in terms of our offense and defense. We'll see new people in new places and things like that. We'll let everybody that goes play and see how they react in a game situation."
With several newcomers and a new starting quarterback from a year ago, Brooks is ready to give his club, particularly the offense, one last evaluation before preparations for next week's season opener begin.
"I'd like to see how (quarterback) Devalyn Bell directs our offense," said Brooks. "I'd like to see how our young receivers handle catching the ball in game situations.
"This won't be like 7-on-7. It's 11-on-11. People will be getting tackled and hit. So we'll use (today) as a stepping stone for us."
It has been decades since Ackerman High has faced off against cross-county rival Weir in football action.
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That all changes Saturday, however, when the Indians host the Lions at 6 p.m. in jamboree action.
"This is the closest thing to us playing Weir in high school football in a long time," said Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger. "It's not quite a game, but it's still the same county and these kids see each other all the time.
"Sometimes jamborees are looked over a little bit, but hopefully this will add a little something to it."
The logical question now becomes if meeting up in a preseason exhibition is the first step towards Ackerman and Weir eventually finding a way back on to each other's regular season schedules at some point.
Dillinger says he doesn't know the answer to the question, but is hopeful the two teams can compete again in the not-so-distant future.
"We're not to that point yet, but maybe down the road it'll happen," said Dillinger. "I'd like for it to happen. With the proximity of the two schools, I'd love to be able to play them and that may be something that, if (the jamboree) is successful for all of us, we can look at in the future."