Chris Jones knew years ago what he had in Trey Petty.
The Starkville head coach watched Petty come up through the program, making plays and winning games in middle school and ninth grade. Now, Petty is a sophomore, and the quarterback has created quite the buzz with his play thus far.
Petty has excelled as a passer and a runner, leading Starkville to a 6-0 start, including 2-0 in Division 2-6A. The Yellowjackets, No. 5 in the Daily Journal large school rankings, put that unbeaten record on the line tonight when they visit No. 4 Tupelo (5-1, 1-1).
“You could kind of see when he was a seventh grader, eighth grader – he’s always been a pretty good quarterback,” Jones said. “We knew he was going to be really good one day, but we didn’t know it would be this soon. He’s just a winner.”
Petty has completed 60% of his passes for 755 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. And he is Starkville’s leading rusher, with 413 yards and seven TDs on 73 carries.
“He doesn’t play like a sophomore. He plays like a senior,” Tupelo coach Ty Hardin said.
Petty isn’t Starkville’s only super soph. Running back Tyler Nichols, receiver Braylon Burnside and linebacker Jermar McCarter are all playing major roles.
“These kids have been good for a while. It was just a matter of doing it on this level,” Jones said. “They’re starting to get a feel for it, and they’re doing really well.”
Starkville’s offense will provide a big challenge for Tupelo, which is coming off a 22-6 loss to Oxford. The Golden Wave defense had a poor tackling game, so Hardin has gone back to basics in practice this week.
“Our kids were humbled Friday night,” he said. “They’ve practiced with a chip on their shoulder this week.”
• Ripley (5-1, 1-0) visits New Albany (4-2, 0-1) in a 2-4A showdown. Ripley’s defense has forced 21 turnovers this season.
• Belmont (3-2, 0-1) travels to Potts Camp (4-1, 1-0) in a critical 1-2A game.
• Smithville (5-1, 2-0), which hasn’t lost a game on the field this season, hosts 1-1A foe Biggersville (3-2, 1-1).