Mitchell, who is in his first season at the Starkville helm after spending the previous four at Itawamba AHS, is currently guiding the Yellowjackets through one of the hardest schedules in the state of Mississippi.
Through the first three weeks of the season, the Yellowjackets are 1-2, with their lone win coming against Louisville in Week 2. Their losses were a pair of 14-7 losses to Meridian and Noxubee County; Meridian is ranked second and Noxubee County 12th in Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s statewide poll.
Tonight, the Daily Journal’s fourth-ranked Yellowjackets will visit the Journal’s top-ranked large school, West Point (2-0). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
“Without a question they’re one of the top three teams in the state of Mississippi,” Mitchell said of the Green Wave, a team that won at one of Florida’s best large schools, Daytona Beach Mainland, in Week 2.
And it should be mentioned that the Yellowjackets play in the same division as Rivals.com’s No. 1-ranked team in the country, South Panola.
“If our division is any tougher than the games we’ve already played, then we don’t want to play it,” Mitchell joked.
Despite taking its lumps against the state’s best teams, Mitchell is quite pleased with his new team.
“We’re still finding some identity with what we can or can’t do,” he said. “We’re miles ahead of where I thought we would be. Things were really bad when I got here, but they’ve really surprised me with the level we’ve been playing at.
“We took Meridian to the wire, and we didn’t make the plays to beat Noxubee. We certainly would love to be 3-0, but the reality is that we didn’t get it done. We gotta keep pounding that rock until one day it will work out.”
West Point head coach Chris Chambless has also seen tremendous improvement in Starkville.
“They’re just a re-energized team with Coach Mitchell coming in,” Chambless said. “He’s got them playing extremely hard.
“It’s rivalry week, too. So, throw all the records and everything in the past out the window. This is anybody’s game. They’re going to come in here and play really hard. He’s got them really energetic and doing some good things, so it’s going to be a really tough game for us.”
The Yellowjackets may not be as talented as the Wave and may have suffered more from the injury bug, but Mitchell expects his team to be competitive every game.
“I wouldn’t trade them for anyone anywhere,” Mitchell said of his squad. “We’re by far not the most talented team I have ever coached, but they’re going to play hard Friday night. We have to overcome a lot of physical weaknesses and position weaknesses with great effort.
“We have to play excited on Friday night. If we’re emptying the tank on every play, then we’ll be fine.”
Said Chambless, “Anytime that you get a new coach coming in with that much energy, good things are going to happen. And he’s got good things happening right now.
“So, he’s got them playing extremely hard, and that’s an intangible that you gotta have to win football games. You gotta play hard.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or email@example.com