Sting fast: SHS gets early points for jamboree success

Starkville High School defensive back Zitavious Williams (34) (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Staff Writer

Starkville football coach Chris Jones felt the atmosphere at Davis Wade Stadium would bring out a little extra in his team for its preseason jamboree.

After the first play, that was more than evident.

Senior cornerback Natrone Brooks sniffed out a screen pass and knocked the football loose for a fumble recovery. Starkville scored on a 17-yard pass on the very next play and were off to the races from there. The two-quarter scrimmage ended with a 21-0 blowout win for the Jackets over Louisville and has them primed and ready for the first game of the season next week.

“It was good to hit somebody else," Jones said. "We’ve been kind of banging each other for a long time. That was a great opponent and a great measuring stick for us and them. I got a lot of love for Louisville and it was one of my first jobs. It was fun.”

The Jackets had 172 yards of offense, 100 of which came on the ground and the defense held Louisville to just 13 rushing yards.

Andreus Swanigan led the way on the ground with six carries for 42 yards and a touchdown. KJ Lawrence added five carries for 37 yards.

Cameron Gardner was on the receiving end of that opening 17-yard pass from Malik Brown with just 9 seconds gone in the first quarter.

While Louisville held things where they were for some time during the first quarter, but a long drive was on the way into the second.

The Jackets went on a 11-play, 64-yard drive that saw Tanorris Brookins II catch a 16-yard touchdown from Brown for the 14-0 advantage.

Starkville capped the win with 5:23 left in the second when Swanigan went 25 yards for the score and the 21-0 final.

Brown performed well in his first game back as the starter since leaving the team last year. He was 3-for-6 passing for 41 yards and added another 12 yards on the ground. Orien Thompson had a 31-yard catch.

Defensively, Abdias Simpore led the way with four tackles and a sack. Jalil Clemons and Josh Lawrence also had a sack in the game and Zach Edwards a tackle for loss.

“We could have and should have been way better,” Edwards said. “I missed a tackle and missed a sack. We’re going to get better. It’s going to be OK.”

SHS now prepares for game one of the season where wins and losses will count. First up on the schedule is a road game for the Jackets, who travel to arch rival Noxubee County. It’s a chance for Jones to go up against former coach and co-worker Tyrone Shorter.

Heading into the season, Jones likes where things are.

“I was really pleased with the effort," Jones said. "We made a few mistakes, but that’s a part of it. We’re not in midseason form by any means, but hopefully we’ll get better by next week because we’re playing a great opponent. Monday we’ll come out with our minds prepared for a great opponent.”