What a wonderful, warm and wet week we’re having. My hope is that everyone is safe and dry (as possible, anyway) and preparing for another typical hot southern summer.
Many might be under the impression that just because school is out for a few months that the local sports scene slows down.
That is a common misconception.
Sports of every kind have kicked into summer mode with hundreds of area student-athletes keeping themselves strong and fresh and able to withstand the upcoming seasons which will begin first with volleyball in August.
Join me for a few minutes as I take a peek at “What’s Going On Around Here” this week … and beyond.
End of year reflections
Allow me to rephrase the title of this column to “What Happened This Past Year” just for this once. Within this piece, I will offer my opinions and thoughts on just how good this past sports year really was. In my opinion, it was definitely the best overall calendar year for local sports since I assumed the sports editor position almost five years ago.
By the way, my five-year anniversary as the Daily Corinthian sports editor is coming up in two months, around the middle of August. My experience in this chair has been a tremendous blessing and I look forward to several more years filling this post, at least until I can’t physically perform my duties anymore … or they just get tired of me and send me home.
Just for the record that was meant to be a humorous, though somewhat serious, statement because I truly enjoy and love what I do and I especially enjoy my associations with folks from all around the Crossroads area.
I’ll inaugurate this look back at the 2020-21 calendar sports year in the most obvious of places – the beginning. In this edition, we will take a look at two primary fall sports before shifting to winter sports in the next edition coming soon.
Since volleyball is the sport that kicks off every sports campaign we’ll begin with the highlights from the 2020 season.
Walnut capped their best season to date with their first state title, as they defeated Puckett 3-2 in the 2A championship match. The Lady Wildcats, under the direction of head coach Kelly Hopper, shocked many with their incredibly successful season and are now a program on solid footing that should be a force in 2A for the foreseeable future.
For the first time in six years, Alcorn Central was not in the no. 1 spot in Class I Region I. The Lady Bears were overtaken by a game by the Belmont Lady Cardinals.
Coincidentally, Belmont is moving down in classification to 2A for at least the next two years.
Despite finishing second to the Lady ‘Cards, Central, with Coach Eric Lancaster still leading the troops, advanced through the 3A bracket and found themselves in a rematch with their Tishomingo County rivals in the semifinals of the state tournament. However, Belmont won that match 3-0 before falling to St. Andrews in the championship round.
Corinth, despite heavy personnel losses from the 2018 and 2019 teams, put together another good year under first-year coach Emma Heubi. The Lady Warriors finished second – again – to New Albany – but it was CHS that advanced to the 4A state semifinals as they took down Kosciusko and Caledonia, while the Region Champion Lady Bulldogs fell to Pontotoc in round two. Pontotoc then blanked Corinth 3-0 before succumbing to Vancleave in the 4A state championship.
Biggersville, under first-year Head Coach Brandon Nash, showed vast improvement, qualifying for the playoffs and advancing to the second round before bowing out to eventual state finalist Hickory Flat.
Several other area squads had winning seasons and it appears we’re in for another exciting ride this fall. No official 2020 volleyball schedules have been submitted yet, but the word is that “classic” matches will be played the week of Aug. 7 with the regular season launching the following week.
It was another very good year on the gridiron across the board as five Daily Corinthian coverage area squads qualified for the post-season with one marching all the way to the state championship game.
In fact, let’s start right there.
Biggersville had a season for the ages, one that will live in Lion-lore for a long time.
Now-retired Head Coach Stan Platt turned the BHS football program completely around in just five short years, culminating with Biggersville playing Lumberton for the 1A state championship at “The Vet” in Jackson on Friday, Dec. 4.
It was the first title game appearance for the Lions in school history.
Along the way, the maroon-and-white captured their second consecutive Region 1-1A title, defeated powerhouse TCPS twice, including the second round of the playoffs, picked up their first win over nemesis Smithville in 40 years and compiled the programs first unbeaten regular season.
New Head Coach Case Ingram did lose some star power but has plenty returning as the Lions seek a third straight division title and another deep run in the MHSAA 1A playoffs.
Walnut just keeps flying quietly under the radar year after year with Head Coach John Meeks, who – in my estimation – might be one of the best-kept coaching secrets in Mississippi.
The Wildcats pieced together another outstanding season last fall, finishing second to East Union and taking down MS Palmer in the first round before dropping a 52-50 shootout at East Webster on a failed two-point attempt in the second overtime period.
Moving to Class 3A Booneville and Kossuth were post-season participants, as is usually the case.
The Blue Devils, led by 10th year Head Coach Mike Mattox, were second to league champ Amory, who rallied to defeat Booneville in Prentiss County in mid-October for the regular-season championship.
Region I was matched with Region 4 for the first round of the playoffs but Region 4 had only two teams finish the season. That allowed both the Panthers and Blue Devils to enjoy a first-round bye.
Booneville had the unfortunate task of traveling to eventual 3A state runner-up Noxubee County where their successful season ended at 8-3.
The Aggies, and Head Coach Brian Kelly, snuck in as the No. 4 seed from Region 1 and were rewarded – if it can be called a reward – with a first-round trip to Region 4 champion Winona. The Tigers advanced to the 3A state semifinals where they also lost to Noxubee County.
Corinth, responded to their 2019 Region 1-4A and state 4A championship with a second straight division title. COVID played a part in altering their regular season schedule as they lost homecoming opponent Charleston. However, former Head Coach Todd Lowery surprised many sports pundits and fans across the state by scheduling MAIS powerhouse Madison Ridgeland Academy (MRA). The Patriots won that contest 51-17 before running savage all the way to the state 6A state championship.
The Warriors, despite injuries and COVID-related issues, still managed to win the region title and received a first-round bye in the Class 4A playoffs.
They rallied from a home halftime deficit to defeat West Lauderdale in the second round before having their season ended a week later on the road at Itawamba AHS.
New Corinth Head Coach Justin Dye and his staff will seek to lead CHS to another region title as well as another deep playoff run this fall.
Before closing, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention Thrasher. The Rebels were in prime position to make the playoffs for the first time in several years before being forced to forfeit their final two regular-season games due to COVID. Head Coach Jason Allen will be looking for a redemption card this fall as THS lines it up and tries it again.
The regular season kicks off on Aug. 27 for all teams.