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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Last year’s next season is now for Memphis-area football teams

Terry Davis

Memphis-area high schools have completed pre-season practices, with games that count toward aspirations of players, coaches, and fans set to begin this week.

The season kicks off with games to be played on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The annual jamboree, which gives high school teams in the Memphis-Shelby County Schools district a chance to showcase their talent, unfolded over two days last week.

Southwind coach head coach Jerome Griffin delivers instructions to his Jaguars. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

“This year, we will build on what we had last year,” said Jerome Griffin, the Southwind head football coach. “We had a down year last year. We need to crawl, walk and run; we are now in the crawl phase.”

Southwind has a history of being a competitive team, especially when the team played in Class 4 A with their neighborhood rivals Kirby and Ridgeway.  While Kirby and Ridgeway are on this season’s schedule, Southwind will take on the challenges of Brighton, Dyer County, Munford, Overton, Kingsbury, and Central.

On the offensive side for Southwind, Darryon Taylor will lead the Jaguars. He is an explosive, dual-threat player.

One of the best defensive linemen in the state returns for Southwind.  Kevion Benton, a 6’3” defensive lineman, is a three-star athlete that is big, fast, and humble.

A jamboree faceoff between Raleigh Egypt’s offense and the BTW defense. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Booker T. Washington’s Warriors – bigger, stronger, and more plentiful – want to improve on a 4-6 record. They lost (43-22) in the first round of the playoffs to West Carroll.

“Over the last couple of weeks our team has been improving,” said head coach Aubrey Phillips. “We want to shock single A this year. We want to be at the top of our division this year.”

The first step, said Phillips, is to show up and then be teachable.

“If you are not teachable, you can’t have good football players.”

Azar Boyd and Jamar Frazier, both junior receivers, will be relied upon as impact players.

Middle College, the class of Memphis Class A last season, only returns six starters on offense and defense. They finished the regular season undefeated and ended the year with a 9-1 record after a hard loss to Humboldt.

The Bulldogs hope the culture that was set by previous teams will lead to continued success. Head coach LeNorris Staples will look for receiver Brandon Mitchell to lead the offense. Mitchell, who made big plays last season for the Bulldogs, had a great off-season.

At Mitchell (Class 2A), coach Nathan Cole is focused on building on last season’s 8-3 record, which included two, hard-fought losses to MAHS and Fairley. There are only two seniors on the roster.

“Every year they have us slated to finish fourth or fifth,” said Cole. “We are going to go out there and … compete. We are going to fight hard.”

As the season looms, many observers have eyes on MASE, which has a new coach in Cedric Miller. Miller is the former coach at MAHS, which won the Class 2A district last year. The charter school subsequently closed and 14 starters from the 11-2 record team will be suited up for MASE.

“It is unfortunate in this day in time, but you have to learn how to adjust and adapt,” said Miller. “Everyone who was a part of the former MAHS staff has adjusted to the new situation.”

On blending the two programs, Miller said, “We blended it in pretty well. MASE had a good core of kids, they just were young. … We gelled from day one.  It has been a pleasure working with these young men. We are a blended family.”

MASE, (3-6, 2-3 in district play), now has one of the deepest rosters in Class A in Memphis. Kamara Brown, an electrifying running back, is set for his senior season. A four-star, All-State player, Brown has multiple college scholarship offers, including Ole Miss, Florida State, and Memphis.

Miller’s son, Cameron Miller, has taken his dynamic talent on the Tennessee Volunteers. Kristian Miller, his youngest son, is on this year’s team for his senior season. He is 6’1” and 300 pounds, playing as an offensive and defensive lineman.


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