By DANNY P. SMITH
The Starkville 9th grade Yellowjackets are one more step away from completing an undefeated season and a conference championship.
Starkville set up that possibility Monday night by defeating the Kosciusko Whippets 32-0 at Yellowjacket Stadium.
It was the third shutout of the season for the SHS defense and coach Chris Carlisle acknowledged that the unit played lights out against Kosciusko.
"The defense really stepped up early and created some turnovers," Carlisle said. "Our guys were a lot faster than they were. They've played it up all year so it's nothing new for the defense to be that strong.
"Having folks like A.J. Smith, Derion Ford and (Marquise) Brooks have made a difference this year."
After Alonzo Flowers recovered an on-side kick near midfield to start the game, the Jackets drove for a score on a 9-yard run by Jacquez Horsley. The 2-point conversion failed and Starkville led 6-0 at the 6:05 mark of the first quarter.
Horsley got his second touchdown of the game as he took a punt in the neighborhood of the 45-yard line, broke a couple of tackles and went on to the end zone. The Jackets failed to get the 2-point conversion once again and led 12-0 with 7:04 remaining in the second quarter.
Starkville got another second-quarter score with 3:55 left when Horatio Williams took a handoff on a reverse and ran for a 46-yard touchdown. Even with another failed 2-point conversion, the Jackets held an 18-0 advantage at halftime.
After getting touchdowns on a rush and a punt return, Horsley was used at quarterback in the third quarter and tossed a 41-yard pass to Keon Higgins for a score. That enabled SHS to build a 24-0 margin.
The Jackets followed an interception by Raphael Leonard to get the final points of the night at the 5:58 mark of the fourth quarter. Flowers had a 5-yard touchdown run and Shy Spruell did the honors on the 2-point conversion.
Starkville, which improved to 6-0, plays West Point at home on Oct. 13 with a championship on the line.
"That's something we haven't done around here in a while," Carlisle said. "It was 2004 since 9th grade has won a title."
8th Grade Game
Deontay Rogers scored a pair of touchdowns as the Jackets got a measure of revenge against a team that had beaten them as 7th graders.
Five different Starkville players had a part of running in touchdowns or 2-point conversions during the action much to the pleasure of coach Steve Denson.
"They are starting to get there," Denson said of the running backs. "We started out the season a little sluggish and not hitting things, but as the year has gone on, they have learned to set up blocks with their running instead of just trying to hit the hole wide open and we're glad to see that."
Rogers sprinted for an 80-yard touchdown run with 5:01 left in the second quarter and Maleke Bell bulled his way into the end zone for the 2-point conversion to give the Jackets an 8-0 lead.
Kosciusko got within two points right before halftime on a 2-yard run, but failed to convert a 2-point conversion to leave the score at 8-6 going into halftime.
Rogers set up the second score for Starkville in the third quarter with a long run to the 7-yard line. Vincent Epps took the football the rest of the way on the next play and Rogers ran in the 2-point conversion as the Jackets increased their advantage to 16-6 at the 7:09 mark of the third.
Once again Rogers got loose on the next possession with a run that set Starkville up at the 2-yard line and he also scored the touchdown on the next play with 1:38 showing in the third quarter. The Jackets were stopped on the 2-point conversion.
In the fourth quarter, Denson got other players involved in the running game as Avery Brown broke a 55-yard run to the 4-yard line, then Jack Spencer took the football in from there to score with 5:29 remaining. Marvell Tabb ran in the 2-point conversion to put Starkville up 30-6.
The Whippets were able to score on the game's final play, but the outcome had already been decided.