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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — It is a whole new ball game this season for the Starkville Yellow Jackets.

The defending 5A State Champions are now moving up into 6A, as the Jackets make the leap to the highest classification in Mississippi high school football.

Yet the expectation of winning the State Title, still remains.

“The first thing we told our guys the first day of camp is this isn’t the 2012 team,” head coach Jamie Mitchell said. “This is 2013. We won a state championship last year, but that doesn’t help us any this year. This is a brand new group. We have to saddle up and be ready to go.”

“It’ll be interesting and there are a bigger sized schools in 6A,” senior linebacker Taylor Johnston said. “We’re gonna be try and out-smart our opponents and know exactly what they’re going to run when they run it.”

One big question mark for the Yellow Jackets this season is QB: with Caleb Wilson’s move to Georgia, coach Jamie Mitchell has turned to former receiver Princeton Jones to take charge under center.

“His development will be key,” coach Mitchell said. “He’ll have to progress week to week. He’s a guy that’s eager to learn and get better. I think he’ll be a work in progress and by the end of the year he’ll round out to be a pretty good quarterback for us.”

With the question mark at quarterback though comes the experience and leadership on the other side of the ball.

“We feel really good defensively,” Mitchell said. “A lot of our inside defense is back so we feel really good about our interior defense.”

“We have a lot coming back on defense,” senior linebacker Marlow Rogers said. “We lost DB’s but we have young guys filling those spots. We’ll be good this year.”

For Starkville this season, the goal is going back to back. And it has been done before, back in ’94 and ’95.

There is a precedent, but the Jackets are quick to say it won’t be a storybook ending to the season; they expect another gold ball.

“It won’t be a dream come true,” Johnston said.  “It’s very plausible. but it is also what we expect here at Starkville.”

“State championships are what this place is built on,” coach Mitchell said.  “That’s our expectation is to win every year. We want to build a dynasty here. It doesn’t matter who we play. We just have to get out there and get after it.”

Starkville begins the season with Noxubee County this Friday in a battle of two defending state champions from 2012.

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