Michael Bradley just got the toughest coaching job in Northeast Mississippi: football coach at Mooreville.
He replaces Steven Foster and inherits a 26-game losing streak. Bradley, a Mooreville alumnus, was a three-sport athlete in three winning programs. Mooreville went 19-12 in the three seasons (1985-87) he was a quarterback under F.G. Wiygul. He had winning careers in basketball and baseball under Rex Berryman. He wants it that way again.
“In a 2A school you have got to have the athletes in all three programs. We have got to convince them to add football to their resumes,” Bradley said.
He said he is hoping to be a mixture of “the two finest coaches I know, F.G. Wiygul and Rex Berryman. Since I have played here, my goal was to come back and coach this team.”
Perfection: New Hope’s Trojans won their 42nd straight game, beating George County 7-3 Tuesday to break Iuka’s old record of 41 wins in a year. If New Hope wins its next game, the Trojans capture the state Class 4A championship and break Petal’s record of 42 consecutive wins. They would also be the first undefeated state champion since Corinth went 12-0 in 1956.
New Hope had to come from behind in three of four playoff games with Tishomingo County and Itawamba AHS. That is both a measure of area baseball and New Hope.
Tishomingo County coach Jerry Long (coach of the 1989 Iuka team) said of a 3-2, eight-inning loss to New Nope, “They have got to be doing something right. If they hadn’t shortened the season they would have won 50 straight.”
Trivia time: Long noted he and South Pontotoc coach Steve Lyles were teammates on the 1974 Iuka state championship team and Pascagoula assistant Tim Holland, whose team is playing Tupelo for the Class 5A title, was on his 1989 Iuka team.
“I wonder how many players on state champions from the same school also coached in championship series?” Long asked.
Tough road ahead: Three area teams Tupelo, South Pontotoc and Hamilton are in championship series, but it doesn’t look bright: the titles will be decided in the south Saturday.
South Pontotoc has to rebound from a 15-4 home loss to Seminary with a road sweep in Class 2A.
Hamilton opened the Class 1A playoffs in a great game with good pitching, heady hitting and 10 innings of suspense before beating Stringer 8-7.
Stringer’s Red Devils look a litttle too hot, though Hamilton has good pitching in Wild Thing, Josh West, and Captain Junk, Richard Hass.
Stringer’s seniors are in their third state championship series in four years. Ironically, Stringer’s skill in a tough play may have cost it the first game. With none out in the bottom of the ninth of a 7-7 tie, Stringer catcher Garrett McCarty played the rebound of a wild pitch off the backstop and made a perfect throw to pitcher Rusty Garrett at the plate to tag Brandon Kennedy.
That convinced Stringer coach Donald Saul to hold the runners on a wild pitch in the top of the 10th with two in scoring position. Pitcher Tracey Cockerham then got strikeout No. 14 and a ground out on his 163rd pitch. Hamilton won two outs later.
Who’s best: If someone picked a Northeast Mississippi overall athlete of the year, Cockerham would have to be a leading candidate. The pitcher was also a solid quarterback and was third in the state Class 1A golf tournament, and has been a two-time medalist in the past.
He has competition. Two other quarterbacks come to mind: Chad Hill of Oxford, a Division I prospect in three sports who chose Ole Miss baseball over football and basketball, and Shannon junior Romaro Miller, who will be in the same boat next season.
The female athlete of the year would have to be Teneeshia Jones of Nettleton, who may be the best overall female athlete in the state this year. She is the Daily Journal softball player of the year and is an outstanding basketball player. Last week she won the 100-meter run, 100-meter hurdles and the 200-meter run and was on two winning relays in the the Class 2A state track meet.
Mike Talbert covers high school sports for the Daily Journal.