2015 High School Football Tour – Stop #59: Starkville

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — Most didn’t think it was possible to replace a State Champion caliber coach in Jamie Mitchell so late in the game.

Guess what, Starkville did the impossible: they hired a 7-time State Champion head coach.

Ricky Woods joins the Yellowjackets for 2015, and it hasn’t been a difficult switch for the former Ackerman and South Panola head coach coming home.

“It has been real good,” Woods said. “The kids have accepted everything. It’s a great program. The coaches have all stayed. It’s really been easy and they’ve all helped out. It’s been an easy transition.”

“Coach Woods is an unbelievable coach,” senior Lorenzo Dantzler said. “The way he runs practice, he’s so laid back. He expects the most out of us and we expect the most out of him as a coach.”

The foundation of the 2015 team will be on defense at Starkville.

D-1 prospects are littered across the field for the Yellowjackets, but most impressively up front on the defensive line.

With Lorenzo Dantzler, Kobe Jones and Maleke Bell in the trenches, that’s 3 SEC caliber defensive linemen that opposing offenses will have to try and stop.

Even the Yellowjacket offense is having trouble handling them in practice.

“It’s kind of hard going up against those guys in practice,” senior A.J. Brown said. “You can’t get a pass off. They’re always in the backfield blowing the play up. I give a lot of credit to them. Sometimes we have to tell them to chill out just to get the play off.”

“It’s unbelievable playing with me, Kobe and Maleke up front,” Dantzler said. “We’re just dominant, no one can block us. We feel we’re the best front in Mississippi.”

Simply put, it’s gold ball or bust for this year’s Starkville Yellowjackets.

Last year’s team destroyed division foes and went all the way to the 6A North half final, only to lose to South Panola.

That game, that loss, it still remains on the minds of those at Starkville High.

“Each and every day,” senior Maleke Bell said on last year’s South Panola game. “That’s what we practice on, that’s what we lift weights to, that’s what we strive to. That’s what I get up to in the morning.”

“We have a chip on our shoulder this year,” senior Kobe Jones said. “We’re just going to come out all or nothing this year. That’s the goal every year at Starkville is a State Championship. If we’re not first place, we’re last place.”

“That’s two years in a row we’ve been put out by South Panola,” Brown said. “We’re not supposed to think about them but that’s who we think about every day. That South Panola team wearing our ring.”

“Any time you play, you play 15 and win the last one,” coach Woods said. “That’s your goal when you play. That’s our goal as a team and as coaches.”

Could it be, that Starkville will break the South Panola run with a former South Panola State Champion coach?

The stars are aligned, and the Jackets begin their run back to the State Title this Friday at defending 4A State Champion Noxubee County.

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