Jackets sharpen stinger in hopes for better outing

SHS quarterback Malik Brown
Staff Writer

Coach Chris Jones could certainly feel better about his team heading into Friday night’s second round playoff matchup, but the fact that the Starkville Yellowjackets are still playing is all that matters to him right now.

The Jackets sit at 11-2 and are fresh off of a Class 6A, Region 2 championship after sneaking past Clinton two weeks ago. Last week they struggled for the third-straight week on the offensive side of the football and couldn’t score a touchdown in a 6-0 win over Southaven.

Turnovers, bad snaps and missed reads have been the biggest issues in their last three games.

“I guess we’re not all locked in and we’re not on the same page," SHS quarterback Malik Brown said. "We’ve got to come together and get on the same page. We’re going through the motions. We get all the way to the goal line and can’t finish.”

Brown has 1,580 yards passing with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions this year for the Jackets with Cameron Hines his top pass catcher with 59 catches for 709 yards and 10 scores. Rodrigues Clark continues to lead the way on the ground with 1,231 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, so producing yards hasn’t been an issue.

There’s been a disconnect with the offense down the stretch that has frustrated and concerned Jones at times. He always puts the blame on himself.

“I put it on my shoulders and make it a little easier I guess,” Jones said. “Whether we make the mistakes or not, I’ve got to find a way to get playmakers the ball and overcome those mistakes. We spent more time together this week installing plays as a group.

“You overlook stuff when you’re winning. This didn’t happen overnight just because we were scoring a lot of points. When you get to playoff time and you’re playing better teams, they take advantage of your mistakes.”

Starkville’s defense is playing at a high level themselves, however. Linebacker Jacob Williams leads the squad with 105 tackles and the Athlete of the Week Zach Edwards has seven sacks this year.

The defensive side of the football is always a solid foundation for a championship team, which has the Jackets just waiting to explode again. It will be much easier for this team to do that at home where they will be for the duration of the playoffs if they continue to win.

With Tupelo’s early exit in the playoffs against Warren Central last week, a win tonight means that SHS will host the North State Championship at Yellowjacket Stadium next week.

Jones and company have to take care of business first against a very good Horn Lake team, which also owns just two losses this season. Jones is past winning with style points at this time.

However SHS got here, he’ll take it.

“I don’t care if it’s a five-point win or a half-point win, a win is a win at this point,” Jones said. “Nobody is going to remember, 10 or 15 years from now, that we didn’t play well offensively if we still won championships.”