By NEMS Daily Journal
We asked the nine writers who covered most of the high school football games for the Journal this fall to share their most memorable moments:
More than Fair
Starkville defensive end David Fair, Jr. suffered a torn knee ligament (ACL) – the third of his high school career – early this season. His two options were: surgery and miss the remainder of the season or wear a brace and play.
Fair elected to play. However, the knee would buckle at times and he would have to be carried from the field. But according to his coach, Jamie Mitchell, Fair, “was tugging on my shirt two plays later, wanting to go back in.”
In this year’s 5A state title game, Fair lay on the ground in pain and had to be helped off the field. One play later, he was back on the field to help the Jackets stop a Pascagoula drive.
The most amazing play I saw all season came from Houston senior Chris Jones against Louisville in the Class 4A North State semifinals.
The athletic defensive end leaped into the air, grabbed the interception and raced 71 yards for the score. Nobody got close to him until he reached the goal line.
Not often do you see guys that big (6-foot-5, 250) outrun skill players from Louisville High School. We often throw around the term “great” too much, but that was a “great” play.
When 8-0 Itawamba AHS traveled to 8-1 Amory on Oct. 19 with Division 1-4A on the line, the game had all the makings of a titanic struggle.
Until Ashton Shumpert stepped onto the field.
The 4-star prospect rushed for 301 yards and five touchdowns to lead his team to a 35-13 victory, but perhaps most memorably was a third quarter third-and-5 play near the Indian goal line.
Shumpert was seemingly stopped for a short gain when he kept his legs churning, shook off tacklers and rumbled up the middle of the field until he was finally pushed out of bounds in Panther territory.
Instead of punting from its own end zone, IAHS was knocking on the door. It was one of many such moments provided by Shumpert this season.
Zach Adams, Itawamba Times
No football coach in the country had to deal with as much as New Albany coach Ron Price, whose wife Amanda was murdered less than a month after the 2011 season ended.
Watching Price walk out of the tunnel on opening night against Ripley with his 4-year-old daughter Molly Addison in his arms and surrounded by his team was chilling.
My own 4-year-old Spencer was in my arms as I shot video of the moment. My wife Jessica was there and my 1-year-old Finley was on my mind.
There wasn’t a dry eye there, including mine.
One of my favorite moments reminded me about how much work is done by these teams during the week.
New Albany’s Boston Newsome had an amazing season, but his best night came after one of his most difficult ones.
He ran for a career-high 306 yards – with no fumbles – at North Pontotoc on Oct. 5 in a 56-13 win. The previous week against Senatobia, however, he had fumbled five times and lost four.
“Last week, I had a good bit of turnovers,” Newsome said after the game at Ecru. “That motivated me all week… I walked through practice with a ball in my hand. I ran through practice with a ball in my hand and made sure I put two hands on the ball.
“Coach (Ron) Price made a deal with the team that if I had the ball in the weight room and if anybody got it out of my hand, I would have to pay them $25, and I’m not paying nobody $25,” Newsome said, laughing. “I’m holding that ball. And I still got money in my pocket this week.”
My first season covering Tupelo High did not go as well for the Wave as their fans hoped, but the season was not without its standout moments.
Tupelo’s defense played on a consistently strong level most of the year, and forcing turnovers was a big factor in their play.
Coordinator Lamar Aldridge sought three turnovers per game from his bunch. Against Grenada, he received double what he asked.
Four of the Golden Wave’s six forced turnovers were returned for touchdowns in a 35-14 victory, two off fumbles by Demarcus Rogers and Marcus Robinson while Quinn Tiggs scored on two interceptions.
It’s good news for Tupelo that the majority of its defense, including those three, will return for the 2013 season.
An A-plus game
In a season full of plenty of blowouts, by far the best game (and winning moment) I saw all season was this year’s A-Game between Amory and Aberdeen. The game had been built up as being the best matchup between the two teams in a long time, and it didn’t disappoint.
Aberdeen jumped out to a quick lead, but Amory made a comeback right before halftime and in the beginning of the third quarter. After a field goal that finally gave them a one-point lead, it looked to be their game to lose, as Aberdeen wasn’t getting much going offensively in the second half.
Until the last drive of the game, when quarterback Josh Williams marched the Bulldogs down the field in the final three minutes and capped it off in dramatic fashion when he hit Aaron McMillian for the game-winner as the clock expired to give Aberdeen its fourth-straight win in the series.
Melissa Meador, Monroe Journal
I almost missed my most memorable game of 2012.
I was scheduled to cover Walnut at Bruce, but car trouble put an end to that trip. Luckily, I wasn’t far enough down the road that I couldn’t make it to Biggersville.
Falkner won a shootout, 76-40. Most of Falkner’s points (46) came from sophomore running back Jeramie Lawrence, who rushed for a school record seven touchdowns – he also tossed in a couple of two-point runs – and had a school record 433 yards rushing on 27 carries.
In the second quarter alone, the shifty tailback totaled 184 yards with touchdown runs of 46, 35 and 72 yards to help the Eagles to a 33-24 halftime lead.
The basketball type score matched the basketball type runs in the game.
Falkner scored the first 14 points, Biggersville responded with 18 unanswered, but Falkner led at the break. Biggersville scored the first 16 points of the second half to lead 40-32, before Falkner made the final run of the night.
And as he did most of the night, Lawrence led that run with three more trips to the end zone from 23, 19 and 65-yards out.
Kedrick Storey, Southern Sentinel
Each high school football season brings a degree of uncertainty, and it is that pure joy and unpredictability that keeps us coming back.
Certainly, I would not have predicted A. J. Rye kicking the game-winning extra point in overtime of a 34-33 Saltillo victory after standing in street clothes most of the contest.
And not to pick on the Blue Devils, but who would have predicted Byhalia defeating Boone-ville 14-6 in the playoffs? A great win for such a relatively young program that I remember covering when they were the last Class 3A school in the state not to have football.
And one wish for 2013 – that I’m able to shake former Booneville coach Jim Drewry’s hand at a football game for many more seasons.