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Local prep football teams start fall drills

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
Aug. 6, 2001
And so it begins …
High school football teams from across the state will be going out today for the start of fall practice. For most, the season will start Aug. 31 and local coaches will tell you there is a lot of work to do between now and then.
There will be three new head coaches among the six prep teams in Lauderdale County. They are Andy Stevens at Northeast Lauderdale, Mac Barnes at Lamar School and Bubba Hathorne at Clarkdale High School.
Here is a rundown what will be going on in some of the camps around Lauderdale County and east Mississippi.
Meridian High
Coach Bill Sartin will tell you he has some holes to fill in his starting lineup with the graduation of 10 seniors from last year's 9-3 team who signed college scholarships. Last year's team claimed a share of the regional championship and made it to the state playoffs.
Vying for the quarterback position will be senior John Hayes Compton, junior Richmond Alexander and sophomore Ken Mitts. They'll have a strong group of running backs to work with in juniors David Fields, Fred Patton, Cordae Campbell and Deangelo Jones.
A strong group of wide receivers is also returning in Kevin Moore, Pierre Henderson, Courtney Lynch, Donta Baker, D.J. Lloyd and Jason Spinks.
Fielding Mitts, meanwhile, is expected to anchor the offensive line at center. He will be surrounded by guards Dometric Dunn and Brennam Bates, and offensive tackle Bennie Dubose. Torrey Bates and Domnick Walker will be working at the tight end position.
Meridian will renew its old Big 8 Conference rivalry with the Laurel Golden Tornadoes Aug. 31 when the Wildcats open their season at home.
Northeast Lauderdale
Andy Stevens will take the helm of the Northeast Lauderdale football program with one thought in mind: winning.
Stevens is looking for about 60 players to report for fall drills.
Steven Dyess will be returning at quarterback. Pasquel Thedford (6-2, 280) will anchor the offensive line at tackle, while spearheading the offensive ground game will be running back Kelvin Horne and fullback Marcus Betts.
The Trojans open the season Aug. 31 at Heidelberg.
Southeast Lauderdale
The Southeast Lauderdale Tigers took their bumps and bruises during last year's 2-8 campaign. But many of the players are returning for another year, and coach Dwane Taylor says their experience is going to be a big plus.
Two cousins will be working together on offense. Ben Reed is back for his third season as quarterback for the Tigers, while Travis Reed will be at the running back and wide receiver positions.
The Tigers have two other outstanding receivers in Willie Hand and Andy Landrum.
Robbie Ward (220) will anchor the offensive line at center, flanked by guards Malcohm Harris (225) and Matt Raines (185) and tackles Pig Grant (240) and Patrick Ezell (325).
Taylor's son, Dwane Taylor Jr., will serve at defensive coordinator. Reggie Richardson will also assist on the team.
The Tigers open their season Aug. 31 at Coffeeville.
The Lamar School Raiders are expecting 28 high school players and 40 to 50 junior high players when fall drills start today.
Sophomore Drew Moffett will be one of seven to eight sophomores who could be starting when the season opens at Wayne Academy Aug. 31.
Anchoring the team will be senior Zach Moore and junior Monroe Mayfield. Moore will start at wide out on offense while Mayfield will be the tight end. Both are expected to play in the defensive secondary.
Bubba Hathorne is welcoming a young team of Clarkdale Bulldogs as they gear up for their season opener Aug 31 against Edinburg.
Hathorne has an experienced coaching staff to work with. The staff includes Darryl Jones, who was head coach at Northeast Lauderdale last season, Roland Gatlin, the head coach at Clarkdale last year, Gary Gore, who led Wayne Academy to a state championship two years ago, and Morris Stamm.
Under the rule changes, four teams from each division will go to the state playoffs, and Hathorne says don't be surprise if that includes the Bulldogs.
Leading the offensive charge this year is returning running back Thomas Walters.
` "Scott Central and Newton should be battling for the top two places. And we'll be fighting it out with Kemper County and South Leake for the other places."
West Lauderdale
The West Lauderdale Knights, under the guidance of coach Stan McCain, are gearing up for their home opener Aug. 31 against the Florence Eagles.
Coach Charles Faulkner is expecting 60 to 65 hopefuls out for fall drills when the Quitman Panthers start workouts today.
Quitman finished 5-5 last year, and Faulkner is looking for better things this year.
Prentiss Davis appears to be the quarterback this season. Davis was thrust into the starting role last season as a sophomore before being injured. And Faulkner said he looked strong during the spring drills.
Dominick Kelly, Evan Pickett and Marcus Moore will be back at the running back position. Faulkner is expecting a strong defensive unit, anchored by defensive tackles Dustin May and Darress Blanks, Moore at outside linebacker, and cornerbacks Roderick Laphand and Pickett.
The Panthers will open their 2001 season at home against Neshoba Central.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.