Jackets participate in New Hope jamboree at MSU

SHS football coach Chris Jones, right
Staff Writer

Games won’t officially count in the wins and loss column until next Friday, but football season officially begins today.

While the rest of the area gets their preseason jamboree’s underway tonight, Starkville High School will play Saturday football at Davis Wade Stadium.

The Yellowjackets are taking part in the annual New Hope Fall Jamboree at Mississippi State that begins Friday night with a full slate of games between some of the best teams around the state.

Starkville will break the seal on the Chris Jones era on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. when they rekindle an old rivalry with Class 4A Louisville.

The two teams had played an annual series dating back to the 1940’s but have not met during the season since 2010. This marks at least a semi-return to the game between two storied programs separated by only 30 miles.

“It’s going to be a very hard-played game, but we all know each other," SHS senior cornerback Natrone Brooks said. "Some of them went to our school and transferred. It’s going to be a tough game going back and forth.”  

Though the Jacket players and their coach’s competitive nature has them itching for a win, the outcome won’t be what Jones will look at the most. The first-year head man has been wanting to see his team steadily improve over the course of fall camp and build toward competing in the late fall for a state championship.

“This isn’t about game planning and preparing for Louisville, it’s about us and making sure we can line up right and know our assignments,” Jones said. “We want to see those things along with effort. That’s how we’ll evaluate those guys and after that, we’ll get a better feel for who we know can help us going forward.”

The last time Jones was inside Davis Wade Stadium was last December when he led his Kemper County Wildcats to the Class 3A State Championship trophy. He still has fond memories of that experience and will enjoy getting back to the stadium that housed his first championship win as a head coach.

Jones also expects that his players will enjoy getting back to MSU’s home stadium where many have played before and watched Southeastern Conference football games most of their lives. He believes that the atmosphere will pose something extra for his young group that is ready to be unleashed.

“I think they’re going to play with a little more juice getting to play in an SEC stadium right in their back yard," Jones said. "A lot of teams dream of this opportunity to be on a platform like that. I’m excited, also. The last time there we had some good times and good memories.”

Jones reports that his team is relatively healthy heading into Saturday’s game with one player out of the season and two more banged up. He hopes that things stay that way after the battle with the Wildcats.