By DANNY P. SMITH
The building process continues for the Starkville High School football program.
Coach Jamie Mitchell and his staff were forced back to the drawing board after the Yellowjackets suffered a 33-21 loss to Noxubee County last Friday.
Mitchell doesn't like to lose and understands there are some issues that still have to be fixed in order to develop a consistent pattern of success in Starkville.
"We're just not pleased with a lot of things," Mitchell said. "We're still trying to get kids to understand what direction we're headed in."
As the Jackets look to tonight's game against the Madison Central Jaguars at home (7:30 p.m.), Mitchell doesn't think the players will have any trouble getting back up after the opening-season loss.
"I've said this many times, but kids are more resilient than the coaches," Mitchell said. "The losses seem to bother us a little more than the kids. They are eager to open at home. It's always a big deal and we're excited for the opportunity to play in front of our home town. It should be a big-time environment.
"You've got a program like Madison Central coming in and I hope we can represent our program the way we want to represent it. A lot of folks couldn't make it to Noxubee, but they will be here and it should be a packed house."
In the preseason, Starkville was expected to do very well in Class 5A, Region 2, but Mitchell felt like there could be some bumps along the way during the pre-region schedule.
After Noxubee County and Madison Central, the Jackets have non-league games left with Tupelo and West Point.
Mitchell said the competition is tough, but likes the capability of his team when it clicks on all cylinders.
"Noxubee is ranked No. 2 in 4A and Madison Central comes in ranked No. 3 in 6A so we're not playing any weak sisters that's for sure," Mitchell said. "Not to take anything away from Noxubee because they've got a good football team, we felt like if we could have kept the right people on the field, we would have been in good shape.
"Madison played extremely well against Olive Branch and had a chance to win. We'd better be ready to defend the option."
The Jaguars had three players combine for 285 yards on the ground in their 28-24 loss to Olive Branch.
The biggest problem Starkville had in the first game against the Tigers was in the area of hydration.
"We had some of our better players that were cramped up and couldn't finish the game so we're doing all we can to address those issues," Mitchell said. "It's not a conditioning problem, but it's a hydration problem. It's a lack of fluids and loss of fluids."
Mitchell said that wide receiver Jimmy Saulsberry will be out once again because of an ankle injury.
After not being able to practice at 100 percent, Mitchell felt it was best for Saulsberry to rest a little bit more.
"He just can't run," Mitchell said. "Until he can show us that he can run without a limp, we're just not going to put him out there."