Alcorn Central has been (really) bad, but Boren is good for the Bears

@brandonspeck

Alcorn Central has struggled (ahem) in football for a really long time. Coach Jeff Boren is looking for a new consistent and having him there for a third year is a good start for the Bears.

“It’s very important. I was  fortunate enough to play for the same coach from junior high to high school,” Boren said. “You don’t have to learn a different way to do things and call things, the little nuisances you deal with every day. There’s not something to adapt to every nine months.”

The numbers back up the, ahem, struggle. Thanks to my good buddy Lee Smith (Esq.) for the numerals.

AC (2-9 the last two seasons) has lost 30 straight division games. Its last win came in 2008, a 35-28 win on Sept. 26 at Kossuth. The Bears lost 49 straight division games from 1999 to 2008. So including a win against Mooreville the week before the 2008 Kossuth win, Alcorn Central is 2-79 in division play since 1999.

The Bears’ last playoff trip came in 1989 under Cecil Stroup, also the program’s last winning season. That was an 11-0 year that ended in the first round of the playoffs. AC went 5-5 the next season. Since then, the Bears have won four games only three times and there have been four winless seasons and six one-win years. Since 1991, Alcorn Central is 42-201.

Making the playoffs means winning at least two of the five division games in 1-3A. Alcorn Central goes to Booneville, Kossuth and Belmont and hosts Mooreville and North Pontotoc. Those five teams swept Alcorn Central 248-39 last season.

Boren has some great insight into where his program is and what it will take to get out of its depths – division depths and playoff peril.

“It’s an extremely tough division. We never go into a week knowing we’re going to win a ballgame,” Boren said. “We fight and chase everything we get. We’ve got to do everything in our power and capitalize on every opportunity to win those two games. The positive is we’ve had great participation all summer. We’re getting there.”

 

Posted in Football

Tremont posts new floor pic

@brandonspeck

Tremont doesn’t have a football team and even if the Eagles did, this good looking new hoops floor could make them want to skip right past it.

Tweeted by @tremontbball, here is a before and after. Forget football, when do the gym doors open? Guarantee this, there will be a Friday night soon where football fans will gather in most places, but gyms in parts of Itawamba and Union Counties will be hooping it up ahead of schedule.unnamed

Posted in Basketball

Fells hoping summer earns him a shot

@brandonspeck

Here’s the story in today’s #DJournal, but here’s a thought from former Shannon star Courtney Fells, who averaged 15 points for the New Orleans Pelicans summer league team.

Fells has played in Israel and Cyprus and with the D-League’s Austin Toros since his NC State days from 2005-2009.

The 27-year-old was cut one spot shy of the NBA champion Spurs roster last preseason and is hooping an impressive summer league will earn him a training camp invite.

“Scoring is just one part of my game. I just try to make sure I do the little things that the coaches ask me to do consistently,” Fells said via phone from Las Vegas. “I try to make sure I do what they ask me to defensively, make sure I’m in the right place for the right spacing, things like that.”

Fells has an NBA look. At 6-foot-5, he’s a shooting guard who can aggressively defend the wing and score from it.

Posted in Basketball

Speck: MHSAA did great, then goofed again

@brandonspeck

For once – even though the Mississippi High School Activities Association denied it multiple times after we at the Daily Journal reported it – the MHSAA and the schools and the public were all on the same page.

Get those football championships out of Jackson’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.

MHSAA executive director Don Hinton deserves credit for making this happen. And he deserves credit for putting the games in the right places, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

There may be some backlash that both sites are technically in the North. But Troy doesn’t host in Alabama and it’s not because Auburn represents the south part of the state. It’s because, like Mississippi, two schools rule the roost. When Southern Miss gets into the SEC, we’ll talk. No offense, but USM is the step-sister in a case like this.

“We want to take our student athletes to the very best venues in the state,” Hinton said.

I honestly sometimes have a tough time believing it when that statement comes from an MHSAA mouth, but this time, it’s right on.

There is a but …

On the heels of that announcement comes this one: The new spot for the expanded state basketball tournament is Jackson State. Now I don’t really know why, but I do know the Veterans Stadium folks were giving Hinton and the MHSAA the business about some unpaid bills. Maybe the MHSAA had to throw JSU a bone.

Now I’ll be honest, I’ve never stepped foot into the gym there, but from what colleagues have said, not ideal. But neither is Mississippi Coliseum, so there’s that.

“We want to take our student athletes to the very best venues in the state,” Hinton said.

Well, that’s simply not what’s happening with basketball. And before anyone starts on me about being a Jackson hater, stop it. I love Trustmark and believe we have the best place for baseball right there in Pearl. And I’m a rewards member at Holiday Inn, right beside the park, so that helps.

Want the best place? It’s in Fulton. Cry me a river if you have to drive from Biloxi. Itawamba’s Davis Event Center holds some 6 or 7,000ish. That’s the perfect size for a 6A crowd. The other five classes would be full and loud, not hollow and sort of loud like the atmosphere at the Coliseum. And it is by far the most beautiful arena in Mississippi, leaps better than The Hump or The Tad – especially The Tad.

“We feel like that is a great thing for Jackson State as well as the city of Jackson, Miss.,” Hinton said of the hoops venue.

But what we need is the best thing for the kids, not for the city of Jackson. It’s not about how far people whine about driving or the tradition people are stuck on or some silly, “We’re going to Jackson” chant. And it’s certainly not about financing the city of Jackson or making JSU happy. Who cares? It is – it should be – about the kids.

So the MHSAA hit it out of the park with the football move. But the hoops move is equally as bad a move as the football is good. Hitting .500 in baseball is Hall of Fame. But if the MHSAA wants it to be all about the kids and the experience, it needs to hit 1.000. Getting hoops out of Jackson should be next on the docket.

Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Football

Links: MHSAA moving football, changing hoops championships

@brandonspeck

The MHSAA  football championships are moving out of Jackson, where they have been played since 1992. But that’s not all. Basketball is getting new look, too.

Here are links to the stories from @genephelps.

Football

Basketball

 

Posted in Basketball, Football

Video: Could Ole Miss get another No. 1 overall receiver?

@brandonspeck

HOOVER, Ala. – Warren Easton (New Orleans) wide receiver Clyde Leflore is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 10 player in Louisiana.

The offer sheet for the 6-foot, 170-pounder is a who’s who. After the 4-star 2016 receiver are Clemson, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, Georgia, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisville, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Tulane, Southern Miss and Oklahoma State.

Saturday at the National Select 7-on-7 National Championships, Leflore said he hasn’t set a timetable to make a decision, but did say Ole Miss is in his top five, along with Clemson Texas Tech, Texas A&M and LSU.

“But that’s not in no order,” he says.

Could he come in a package that would include the nation’s No. 1 receiver?

Teammate Tyron Johnson is the No. 1 wide receiver in America for the 2015 class.

“We talked about it, but he don’t really know where he want to go yet,” Leflore said, “so when he does sign, then we’ll really find the outcome of where I’m going to go.”

Ole Miss has offered both, who led the Eagles to the Select championship with a 12-1 record over the two days in Hoover.

Johnson is No. 27 on the ESPN 300. His offer sheet includes Alabama, Miami, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Auburn, California, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and UCLA.

“It’s gotten very intense over the years,” Johnson said. “Everybody is trying to get me and everybody is calling my phone.”

Both players say their styles are similar. Their coach, Tony Hull, agrees. He says Ole Miss is in the mix for either, or both.

“They’re running backs playing receiver,” Hull said. “They can run great routes. They catch the ball at its highest point. Their ball skills are tremendous and what they do after touching it is what a running back does. It’s kind of you get the best of both worlds with those two. Ole Miss is doing a great job recruiting them. They’re definitely on the list.”

Fresh off The Opening, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Johnson was 4A all-state last season after catching 20 touchdowns and 1,300 yards. He doesn’t yet have a top five or a favorite among his suitors, which were too many for him to recall when asked.

Leflore says the two are like the same person on the field and Johnson is playing adviser off the field for Leflore, who is admittedly “excited” about the recruiting process.

“He knows a lot about it, so I just go to him for help,” said Leflore, “how should I handle it and stuff, how he’s handled it over the years. So yeah, we talk about it a lot.”

Johnson wasn’t with the team when they played in a July 7-on-7 tournament at Ole Miss, but he knows enough to keep the Rebels in consideration.

“Ole Miss is a nice school,” Johnson said. “Ole Miss has had a lot of receivers from New Orleans who went there and went to the pros.”

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Posted in Football, Recruiting

Video: Two Oxford teams showed in Hoover

@brandonspeck

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HOOVER, Ala. – Oxford is out of the National Select 7-on-7 National Championships after a 20-12 loss against Hoover.

But after a 3-4 day Friday in pool play that left coaches less than thrilled, Oxford went 3-2 Saturday.

“All-in-all, I was pleased with today’s performance. I think we learned something,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. “I think we grew up down here. Hopefully we can transition that over to the season.”

The Chargers played without three players, linebacker Mike McGee after injuring his thumb Friday, starting 6-foot-5 junior inside receiver Dalton Cousar and linebacker JR Anderson got hurt against Brandon.

Here is a link to my story in today’s #DJournal. 

Posted in Football

Video: Oxford WR DK Metcalf from Hoover 7-on-7

@brandonspeck

HOOVER, Ala. – Talked with Oxford WR DK Metcalf yesterday about the National Select 7-on-7 National Championships, Ole Miss, Oxford’s upcoming season and other stuff.

Click here for the story from today’s #DJournal, plus video of the interview.

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Posted in Football, Recruiting

Oxford draws tough day

@brandonspeck

Oxford went 3-4 in pool play at Friday’s National Select 7-on-7 National Championships.

The Chargers are the No. 17 seed in today’s 32-team tournament and open with New York’s Shenendehowa at 9 a.m.

A win could pit the Chargers against top-seeded and 7-0 Brandon, if the Bulldogs beat Hope (Ark.).

Games are streamed on select70n7.com.

 

Posted in Sports

Video: Hoover WR commits to Mississippi State

@oxfordcitizenjd

@brandonspeck

HOOVER, Ala. — Mississippi State picked up a commitment Friday morning from 2015 Hoover, Ala. wide receiver Justin Johnson.

At the National Select 7-on-7 National Championships, Johnson told the Oxford Citizen’s John Davis that he had called State coaches to let them know he wanted to join the class.

“Really just a big family,” Johnson said. “That’s the first school I’ve been to and they’re showing love ever since.”

MSU offered Johnson July 19, 2013.

247Sports lists Johnson at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, a 3-star prospect. He said he chose MSU over Georgia and Kentucky. It is State’s 19th commitment.

His offer sheet also included UAB, Arkansas State, Jacksonville State, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky

“I think it’s a deal where he has a lot of confidence in State and he sees what they’re doing, how they’re running the program now,” Hoover wide receivers coach Aryvia Holmes said. “State came in early and they’ve offered a lot of our kids. They’ve been dilligent about seeing the kids. When it’s recruiting season, they’re always here. They’re always calling our kids and I couldn’t be more pleased with Mississippi State. We told them that they’re going to get some of them. Justin happens to be the first one and I’m happy for him.”

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Posted in Football, Recruiting

Hill: Chargers’ loss in Hoover would be disappointing

@brandonspeck

HOOVER, Ala. – Oxford is one of 32 teams in Hoover today for the National Select 7-on-7 National Championships. The Chargers were here last year and finished fourth.

Coach Johnny Hill told me Thursday that the Chargers would be disappointed if they don’t win it. Pool play starts at 9 a.m., Oxford facing Hoover at Hoover High.

It’s the first of seven games. Oxford’s final three will be at Hoover Met, aka Regions Park.

Here is a link to my story in today’s #DJournal and below are the teams participating. 

Posted in Football, Recruiting

MHSAA to announce football move Monday

@brandonspeck

The Clarion Ledger tweeted Thursday that the MHSAA will hold a press conference Monday to announce changes to the state’s football championships.

The MHSAA sent an email that says the announcements will include changes for basketball and football, including change of venue for both. The Daily Journal was told that some of the expanded basketball tournament will be played at Jackson State.

The press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the MHSAA offices in Clinton.

Posted in Sports

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