• John Macon Gillespie

Coverage Recap: Starkville 40 | Meridian 6

There’s not a lot to learn from a blowout game. Simply put, Starkville played well and Meridian did not.

But I did walk away from last night’s game with a very strong impression. The Starkville Yellowjackets are perhaps the top contender in 6A North behind the #3 Tupelo Golden Wave.

In fact - with all due respect to other teams - I want to see that matchup next week. Tupelo vs. Starkville would be a heckuva game.

Anyways, lets step out of the time machine for a moment and return to the present.

From the opening kickoff of last night’s game Starkville was in control. Sure, they were forced to punt on their opening possession. But just seconds later on Meridian’s opening drive, the Jackets got on the board, thanks to an errant snap into the endzone which the Cats fell on for a safety.

Not long after that senior linebacker Jacob Williams navigated his way 56-yards through a crowd of white and blue jerseys on an interception return and scored.

The rest of the night consisted of Starkville dominating the trenches, on both sides of the ball, and plenty of production from junior running back Rodrigues Clark.

After missing the last two games, Clark returned in this one and gave the Jackets a huge shot in the arm on offense. His two rushing scores, and numerous gashing runs through the heart of a stout defense, earned him SES Player of the Game honors.

He mentioned how confident he and his teammates are with first-year head coach Chris Jones on their sideline.

And that’s a good point to expound on. Last season Starkville was explosive at times on offense, but the consistency wasn’t there under head coach Ricky Woods. Fast forward to this season and Jones, an offensive mastermind, has completely reworked the offense.

Now, behind an experienced and talented offensive line, Starkville is capitalizing on their strengths. The Jackets have orchestrated one of the state’s best rushing attacks.

Junior quarterback Malik Brown led the team with over 280 rushing yards coming in. But it’s been by committee at running back, with Dre Swanigan and KJ Lawrence sharing the load with Clark.

At times, following a scoring drive, I would see Zach Edwards, Jalil Clemons, Atavius Jones or another Jacket defender make a big play. And I would think to myself, this might be the best team in 6A.

See, it was easy to write Starkville off somewhat when they were blown out by West Point a few weeks back. If you did, come back, because these Jackets are for real and they’ll be around at the end.

#Starkville #Meridian #JohnLukeMcCord

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