Tales From the Road

Posted Dec 20, 2010

It began with the humidity and high hopes of August and ended with the cold weather and All-Star games of December, but the High School football season is now in the books. My journeys this season led me back to many familiar faces and allowed me to make new friends in new locales. Even though I am always happy to head home, the excitement of seeing something new never gets old.

Game 1 Lawrence County at Callaway - I have had the chance to see each of these teams three years in a row and this contest went down to the final play of the game.

Ole Miss commitments Aaron Morris and Justin Bell helped lead the way to a fourth quarter advantage that held up when the Charger defense picked off a Lawrence County pass on the game's final play and returned it for a score to slam the door shut.

Keep an eye on Callaway junior OL Jocquell Johnson and Lawrence County sophomore standout Glenn Russell.

Game 2 Ocean Springs at Warren Central - The Red Carpet Bowl is a must attend event for me each year. The folks there are always glad to see you coming and always invite you back.

In the first game of the double header, Mississippi State commitment Joe Morrow led the Greyhounds to a win for the second straight year in this event.

Ocean Springs head coach Todd Mangum is truly one of the good guys in the state and I make it a point to check out his team every season.

Game 3 Gulfport at Vicksburg - Coach Mike Justice led the Admirals to a great season this year which ended in the playoffs to South State champs Meridian.

Back in the season opener you could tell Gulfport had something. Defensively they were extremely athletic led by All-Star defensive lineman and Southern Miss commitment Cortez Hartzog and extremely fast on offense.

Juniors Jamison Goings and Travon Travis look to be the headliners next year for a program on the rise in 6A.

Game 4 Wilkinson County at Natchez - Mississippi State commitments Devin Fosselman and James Maiden both had big nights, but Coach Lance Reed's Bulldogs were too much for the Wildcats.

Fosselman had a double digit catch night, but the Natchez defense led by Brian Issac and All-Star Justin Hamilton limited the rest of the team.

Game 5 Mendenhall at Brandon - The battle of the Peterson brothers was an affair that was settled late thanks to a strong defensive effort by the visiting Tigers and linebackers Trae Johnson and Joseph Martin who folks know better as Chico.

The Bulldogs really turned things around and made a run in the 6A playoffs thanks in large part to the play of junior Nelson Adams.

The Tigers made it all the way to the 4A south state championship game, but North Pike and Revis Butler escaped with the win.

Look for junior linebacker Maurice Norwood to make a big impact next season.

Game 6 Provine @ Clinton - The Arrows have one of the best facilities in the state for hosting a football game and I look forward to making that trip each time out.

This year Clinton wore Black uniforms for the first time in ages and the new look Arrows led by Elliot Brashier and Akiko Thompson put the Rams away in the second half.

Provine will be a school of interest this next recruiting season as college scouts flock to check out juniors Cordaryl Gaines and Andante Nelson.

Game 7 Choctaw Central at Morton - This was a good night to see the Panthers even though I had some concern about making the drive. Defensive tackle Quay Evans and senior standout Taveze Calhoun had both missed some time, so there was the chance this could have been an uneventful trip.

The game started with Calhoun in street clothes, but he suited up at halftime and reeled in a long touchdown pass to put the game away.

Quay had one of his best games of the year and simply dominated play.

Game 8 - Mount Olive at Puckett - My first trip into the Wolves' den and I can say the folks there love their team.

Ruben Duckworth put the Pirates up early, but the Puckett running game got going in the second half and a big defensive stop in the final minutes made all the difference.

Duckworth and Mount Olive would eventually make it back to Jackson and defend the 1A state title.

Game 9 - Terry @ Jim Hill - Junior WR Frederick Brown of Jim Hill was extremely impressive in this game.

Brown has to carry a lot of the weight himself, but he certainly does all he can to push his team ahead.

It will be very interesting to see how things go on the recruiting front for Fred. He can play.

Game 10 - Pearl @ Lanier - Lanier senior linebacker Shaquille Smith was sidelined with an injury, so that was a disappointment. Offensive tackle Ronald Perry had a nice game, but the Pirates were too much.

Juniors D.J. Thompson and Kirby Wixson of Pearl are both SEC level prospects and will be names of interest heading into junior days and the spring evaluation period.

Game 11 - St. Paul's (LA) @ Hammond (LA) - Mickey Johnson had a very nice game for st. Paul's in a battle of undefeateds.

Mickey is still one of the country's top uncommitted players and after seeing him in person, it is pretty clear he can be a contributor on the next level.

Hammond wide out Mark Bridgewater is one of the top players in Louisiana people aren't talking about.

Game 12 - Wayne County @ Brookhaven - The first meeting proved to be a harbinger of things to come. The Panthers were an improved football team and they nearly knocked off Wayne County the first go around, but they did get their revenge in the 5A playoffs on their way to a south state championship.

Seniors Stone Underwood and Jewaun Merchant both ended their season in the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game.

Wayne County looks to build on this year with a talented returning class led by Jaleel Lacey and LaDarien Sims.

Game 13 - Arch-Bishop Hanna (LA) @ Southern Lab (LA) - The Kittens had a very talented senior class led by offensive lineman Ezekiel Alsander, Michael Roach and Charles Butler.

Alsander has the chance to be a very good college player. He has the size and explosiveness college coaches at all divisions want.

Game 14 - Oak Grove @ Meridian - This is a rivalry game always worth attending. The winner of this game the past three years has gone on to play for the state championship.

It seems the team's take turns having the big senior class and this year it was Meridian's turn.

Lauren Jackson, Jacoby Eason and Shaquille Fluker led the defense and all three were selected for the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game.

The Warriors might have the edge next year as they return juniors Jordan Woods, Cort Brinson and Trevonte Fenton.

Game 15 - Vicksburg @ Madison Central - The Jags were absolutely rolling at this point in the season and it showed in the 70-12 final score.

Tobias Singleton and Mississippi State commitment Joe Price did their part to put the game away early and then the underclassmen did their part in the second half.

Madison Central OL Devon Desper was already out for the season with a broken foot, but he will be a name to remember over the course of the next year.

Game 16 - Greenville Weston @ NW Rankin - The Cougars were one of the good stories of 2010. They knocked off Madison Central ending the Jaguars district winning streak.

The victory served notice that the boys from Flowood are on the rise.

I was very impressed with sophomore QB Reid Humphreys. His best days are in front of him and he has the chance to really push that program to the next level.

He will get some help from classmate Ramone Nash he will handle the ground game.

Game 17 - Salmen (LA) @ Franklinton (LA) - A made for TV affair between two undefeated teams looking for the leg up in district standings and playoff positioning.

A great game that saw LSU commitment Terrance Magee pair up with Mississippi State commitment Josh Robinson for a fourth quarter comeback that sent the overflowing home crowd home happy.

This was one of the most exciting games I attended all year and the fans had a lot to do with it. With nearly 7,000 people there, Franklinton fed off the the atmosphere when things got dicey.

Game 18 - Yazoo City @ Ridgeland - The Titans might have been the best at playing the team game I saw all year.

On a roster without a true superstar, Coach Kenny Burton's team rolled off 13 straight wins before falling to eventual state champion West Point in the 5A north state title game.

The Titans pretty much had their way with Yazoo City on this night and it was impressive to see a very disciplined team in action.

Game 19 - Newton @ Wesson - The first real cold spell of the season arrived along with the playoffs.

Wesson junior linebacker Derrick Lyles emerged as a prospect to keep an eye on after this one. Lyles totaled 88 tackles and three sacks for the Cobras this season.

Game 20 - MRA vs. Jackson Academy - The Patriots got hot late and knocked off Jackson Prep to earn a berth in the state title game.

Mississippi State commitment Justin Malone really found his groove late in the season and made an impact on both sides of the ball.

The night, however, belonged to JA who knocked off MRA for the second time on the year.

JA kicker Michael Mordecai will be a name of interest for the class of 2011 and MRA QB Stewart Summers is one of the top returning players in MAIS.

Game 21 - Tri-County Academy vs. Trinity - Both teams looked to be on the collision course all season and they finally met for all the marbles.

The game was over pretty early as the Trinity Saints' Jaborian McKenzie fielded a punt and returned it for a score which led to a barrage of first half points.

One of the best kept secrets in the state is Trinity QB/DB Givonni Dent who led the Saints to 21 straight wins and back to back state championships.

Game 22 - South Panola @ Madison Central - It was a weird night from the outset as a kickoff headed out of bounds snaked back inside and down the sidelines to be recovered by South Panola inside the Jaguars' 10 yard line.

The ensuing kickoff would be an onsides' kick that took and odd hope and bounced right to a South Panola player who covered it setting up the Tigers in great shape once again.

For the third straight season, the Jags saw their state title hopes dashed at the hands of South Panola. Qyen Griffin did most of the damage this time.

Game 23 - Mount Olive vs. Durant - A rematch of the 2009 state title game. Much of the pre-game hype centered around Mount Olive QB Ruben Duckworth and Durant running back Cortez Frizell and both lived up to expectations when the whistle blew.

Both were clearly the two best teams from their respective regions and the game turned out to be one of the best of championship weekend.

In the end, Ruben Duckworth made a key defensive play to seal the deal and lead the Pirates to back to back State titles.

Game 24 - Calhoun City vs. Lumberton - We were sure to have a new champ in 2A football with two new participants in the game.

If fans were voting on a game of the year, this one would certainly be listed on a lot of ballots.

Lumberton got off to a great start, but Calhoun City came storming back thanks to the strong play of senior quarterback J.R. Jennings.

With the game on the line, it was Lumberton's Darius Holder coming through with the big play to bring home the trophy.

Game 25 - Meridian vs. South Panola - This is the match-up most expected to see and it proved to be a hard hitting, physical affair.

A late South Panola drive staked the Tigers out to a 7-0 halftime lead.

Mississippi State commitment Kendrick Market lined up in the wild cat and led the Tigers down the field to go up 14-0, but Meridian answered back with Antoinne Adkins gutting things out and finding the endzone.

Adkins put together one of the most determined efforts I saw in person all season. South Panola was the better team, but the Meridian standout was going to make them prove it.

Game 26 - Aberdeen vs. Forest - The Bulldogs from Deentown came up a play short once again and if history is any indicator of future results, the third time may be the charm for junior standout Channing Ward and his team next year.

This year it was Cameron Stowers and Josh Pinkston doing the celebrating. The 2010 championship provides a measure of redemption for the pair who came close to winning it all in 2008 as sophomores.

Game 27 - North Pike vs. Lafayette County - Lafayette QB Jeremy Liggins led the Commodores to the 4A game for the second year in a row.

This time Liggins was the one raising the trophy rather than watching the other guys celebrate.

Tonnie Collins and Revis Butler did historic things at North Pike and their fans should be proud of the way they supported this team.

Junior linebacker Anthony Jefferson is a name of interest for next year. I am sure he and Liggins will see each other quite a bit on the recruiting trail over the course of the next 12 months.

Game 28 - Brookhaven vs. West Point - It was not a big surprise to see the Green Wave back in Jackson, but the upstart Panthers of Brookhaven proved to be bracket busters.

BHS knocked off one seeds Wayne County and West Jones on their way to Jackson.

In the end, Mississippi State commitment Justin Cox found the endzone twice in the early going to build a lead West Point would never relinquish.

Game 29 - Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game - A great game that the Magnolia Staters let slip away, literally.

West Jones quarterback Ben Stevens was hurt by a handful of key drops by his wide receivers that would have sustained drives and in one case found the end zone.

In the end, those missed opportunities came back to haunt the Mississippi Squad as they surrendered a late touchdown pass from LSU commitment Stephen Rivers to Southern Miss commitment Emmanuel Johnson which led to a 14 all tie.

The game ended in the second overtime when a pass intended for Mississippi State commitment Nickolas Brassell was batted down at the goal line.

Game 30 - Bernard Blackwell Classic - Perhaps one of the best decisions the powers that be have made in the past few years was moving this game to December and down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The event has been reborn and thanks to the timing and media interest in the game, players from around the state are excited about participating.

The game had grown stale by being played so late in the year, but now prospects have the chance to display their skills weeks before signing day rather than in the hot summer heat when college rosters are essentially full.

This year Ole Miss commitment Maikhail Miller led a fourth quarter comeback to give the north a 19-14 lead which Mississippi State commitment Benardrick McKinney and the defense preserved to secure a win over the south and bring the series record one game closer to even.

That's a wrap - This year we scouted and videoed 151 different Mississippi High School football teams in an effort to provide our subscribers a first hand look at the best players in the state of Mississippi.

By the same token, we have done our best to provide a forum for prospects from Mississippi to get some much needed exposure.

We always strive to be the undisputed leader when it comes to covering college bound prospects and we consider Mississippi a Scout state.

By utilizing the combines, spring games, summer camps, fall practices and the season, we are committed to bringing you the best coverage available anywhere on the prospects you want to know about.

I have found that there is simply no substitute for first hand observation. We do not always have the manpower to see everybody we want to see, but believe me when I say we want to give every player who has a chance a better chance.

See you next year back on the road.


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