Back refreshed after a week of vacation with extended family in the great state of Texas, it’s time to answer five questions concerning high school sports, football mostly, that are making the rounds.
1. What’s behind the MHSAA’s ban on athletes who live outside the state, but attend a Mississippi high school?
This is going to be known as the Cathedral Rule, because a lot of this stems from some schools in Class 1A who are upset at the rise of the Natchez parochial school as an athletic power.
The Green Wave won both the 1A titles in football and baseball in the 2014-15 school year, and a few of their players live across the Mississippi River in Vidalia. It wasn’t a factor when Cathedral was a doormat, but now, suddenly, it’s an issue.
As it stands, it’s not a bad idea, as it closes off one avenue for potential recruiting, not only in Natchez, but in other border areas, such as DeSoto County.
However, I would have grandfathered in those players who will be seniors this year and have attended the school the past three years.
My guess, though, is that litigation will keep the rule from taking immediate effect and allow those players to stay at their old school one more year.
2. Is Bassfield poised for a four-peat?
The Yellowjackets have been the scourge of Class 2A for the past six seasons, winning four state titles, including the past three.
Veteran coach Lance Mancuso has to replace Jamal Peters and T’Roderick Daniels, the team’s leaders from a year ago.
But, as always, there are young players who are ready to step forward, along with some returning stars, to keep the train rolling for Bassfield.
Anything can happen in the playoffs, and it did in 2010 and 2011, when the Yellowjackets lost in the postseason to Taylorsville and East Marion, respectively. But the safe bet is on Bassfield making it four straight titles.
3. Who’s a good sleeper to keep your eye on for the recruiting class of 2016?
I don’t know if he’s getting much attention from scouts, but Petal running back Darren Ross could be ready for a breakout season.
Ross rushed for 1,033 yards and 15 touchdowns last season for an offense that was extremely well-balanced, including a quarterback who passed for 2,400 yards.
Some reports say the Panthers are moving to more of a run-based offense this year, and that would benefit the hard-running Ross, who is a solid 5-foot-9, 175 pounds.
Can Butler win at OG?
4. Will Randy Butler be able to keep Oak Grove at a high level?
There’s no reason to think he won’t.
Nevil Barr left a well-oiled machine with plenty of continuity in the coaching staff and a wealth of talent returning from last season’s Class 6A state runners-up, including talented wide receiver Jordan Duncan.
Even though Oak Grove is Butler’s first head coaching gig, he spent a number of years doing many head coach-type duties when he was Jeff Bower’s top assistant at Southern Miss, and more recently at Troy University.
5. Which team in the Pine Belt has the toughest non-region schedule?
One of the best trends in prep football in recent years has been the desire for top-rated programs to play tougher out-of-region games, and a number of area teams have difficult opening schedules.
If I had to pick one team, though, that has a true gauntlet to run in August and September, it’s probably Collins.
The defending Class 3A state champs open with road games at West Jones and Prentiss, then have Hattiesburg coming to town, followed by Bassfield at home, then Taylorsville and Quitman on the road.
Collins certainly has the talent to negotiate such a schedule, but probably not without getting a nick or two along the way.
Contact Stan Caldwell at (601) 584-3137, on Twitter at StanMan1717 and on e-mail at scaldwell@hattiesburg american.com.