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By DANNY P. SMITH
The Starkville Yellowjackets have won all three games they've had at home this season.
It's a streak that SHS football coach Jamie Mitchell would like to see continued tonight.
When it comes to playing the Provine Rams in the final 7:30 p.m. start of the season, the Jackets know they can get off to a good start in Class 5A, Region 2, District 6 with their fourth victory in Starkville.
Both the Jackets and the Rams are 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the region so the importance of the game is not lost on Mitchell.
"One of the two of us will be 2-0 and in the driver's seat," Mitchell said. "Being at home again is one of the biggest things in our favor and we've got to defend our home turf. We go on the road next week so this week and next week will tell us a whole lot who will win this division."
Starkville soundly defeated another Jackson-based school in Lanier last Friday 53-13 and although Mitchell was pleased with the outcome of the game, it didn't allow him the luxury of seeing his front-line players in action very much.
With only approximately 20 snaps from the starters, Mitchell said the veteran Jackets weren't on the field enough.
"We scored so quickly that we didn't have an opportunity to do a whole lot," Mitchell said. "We were able to grade some effort and we spent a lot of this week continuing to work more on us than them. I was pleased with last week and everybody got in the game. That's the best medicine you could give any team and that really helps."
After throwing for 155 yards last week, SHS junior quarterback Gabe Myles increased his season totals to 37-of-79 passing for 630 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Preston Baker has caught 13 of those passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns, while receiver Devin Mitchell has 10 receptions for 239 yards and two scores.
Defensively for the Jackets, Dennis Ware leads the unit with 31 total tackles and Johnny Smith has 26 total stops.
Mitchell said it will be important to tackle well against Provine, which brings a reputation of running the football to Starkville.
"They have the most simple offensive scheme that you will find," Mitchell said. "They've got two really good tailbacks and are huge on the offensively line. They are probably the biggest football team we'll play all year."
The Rams have produced some talented players through the years.
Defensive back Nickoe Whitley is at Mississippi State right now, while former Bulldog and National Football League defensive back Fred Smoot also played at Provine. Other former Rams are Anthony Johnson (MSU), Jeremy Weaver (Southern Miss) and Robert Huff (Ole Miss)
"Their list goes on and on with big time players so they are not new to this," Mitchell said. "They've played very good football."
Provine caught Mitchell's eye when it lost a 14-13 decision to Clinton in overtime earlier this season. Clinton was defeated by Madison Central 35-26 last week and the Jackets earned a 16-14 victory against Madison Central in the second game of the year.
So in comparing scores, it tells Mitchell "that's proof in the pudding that (Provine) can contend."
With it being homecoming on campus this week, Mitchell knows there has been and will be tonight many activities surrounding the football game.
He hopes the players will put all of that aside for the 48 minutes they will be on the field against Provine.
"Homecoming is always fun for the students and the school," Mitchell said. "There has been a lot going on this week. We're just trying to make sure our attention stays on a 7:30 kickoff."