It was just a normal regular season football game.
Division play was still a couple weeks away and there were no playoff implications on the line.
Still for one Northeast Lauderdale Trojan, the visit to Philadelphia a week ago was the most nerve-racking game ever.
Kaytee Nelson has played for a state championship in softball and has played soccer since she was 7. But nothing came close to when she lined up for a second-quarter extra point at Harpole Stadium.
"It was more intense than softball or a soccer game because you had everybody up there screaming and waiting on me to kick it because I am the only girl out there," she said Wednesday after the Trojans' practice. "So they are all screaming my name. I didn't hear all that because I was so ready to get out there and kick it and get it over with. I didn't hear any of it.
"It was very nerve-racking."
She wasn't alone. Her father Steve is an assistant principal at Northeast and is the Trojans' former coach. He shared those same nerves as he watched from the bleachers.
"Well as you know I've seen her play a lot of athletic contests and events through the years and that was the most nervous I've ever been for her," he said.
"Just because it was different and it was probably a strange thing that she was about to do."
It was something, though, that almost happened a year earlier. Last season, the final of Steve Nelson's 10 years at the helm, the Trojans' kicker Jesse Lang got hurt. So, Kaytee gave it a shot in practice. Lang, though, ended up being fine and finished the season.
This year, Northeast wasn't as fortunate. Mikey Meyers, who joined the team over the summer, was hurt during the Trojans' loss to Jackson Academy on Aug. 24.
"At Jackson Academy, our trainer checked him and he had a hip flexor issue," Blackburn explained. "He went to the doctors to get it seen and he comes back with a cracked patella. His kneecap was broke.
"We don't know where that came from. Our trainer never treated him for that during the game. It was just sending him for one thing and coming back for something totally different."
With Meyers injured, the Trojans went for two-point conversions after every score against Southeast Lauderdale and Neshoba Central. However, that wasn't something Blackburn enjoyed.
"I would much rather take a guaranteed one every time than trying for two," he said.
And with that, the door for Nelson's nerve-racking experience was opened.
"We knew she could kick," Blackburn said, pointing to her practicing a season ago.
Added Nelson: " My best friend was the kicker and he got hurt. They needed a kicker and didn't have one."
The Trojans do now, though. Blackburn and Northeast are only using Nelson, who is still the starting shortstop on the slow-pitch softball team and joins football practice every day after softball practice ends, for extra points and kickoffs. The main goal is to protect her.
"It was very nerve-racking," Blackburn said, joining the nervous crowd last week. "Especially with her dad being my boss the past three years and now still as a principal.
"I just wanted her to make it for her, and I wanted our guys to protect. I'm going to protect her as much as I can. I'm not going to have her kick off or any of that, even though she could do that."
She has already made an impact, willing to take on the added responsibility of a second fall sport. And that sacrifice has her father as proud as any goal or run she had scored before.
"That's the bottom line: she was willing to do this for the team, and not for any publicity just because she is a female and all that," Steve Nelson said. "She was just willing to sacrifice, knowing that she's playing slow-pitch as well and trying to balance these two. And just her dedication to Northeast and the Northeast football program because for the last 10 years that's all she's known was Northeast football with the position I was in. She had always wanted to do it and I just hate that it had to happen this way with Mikley getting injured, but I was proud of her stepping up at the plate.
"If I had been down there on the sidelines I probably would jave been just as nervous as I was in the bleachers last Friday night. I was proud of her from wanting to do this and not shying away from this and being a team player and helping out."
Added Blackburn: "She saw we were in need and she stepped up. A lot of people wouldn't have done that.
"One of the things I've asked our kids to do is to trust in me. Trust that I will make the right decision no matter what. And they've trusted. I asked a couple of our leaders what they thought and they all said, 'Coach if it will help us win, we're all for it.'"
The Trojans didn't win last week, though. No, Philadelphia won 38-7. But still, Nelson stepped up and nailed her first extra point attempt. And it was no normal game. And it was no normal feeling when the football split the uprights.
"It felt better than making a soccer goal," Kaytee Nelson said.
It was just a normal regular season football game.
Titles nothing new for Newton County
Newton County captured its seventh fast-pitch state championship, outscoring defending champion Houston 26-3 in two games. The Cougars took home the title despite not having a single senior on their roster –– still, few were surprised.
Embry completes 5A title sweep
In his first year coaching the Neshoba Central softball team, Trae Embry won two state titles but wouldn't take all the credit.
Morgan takes runner-up at Nationals
Meridian Community College golfer, TJ Morgan, from Bruce, MS, tied for the
individual medalist at the NJCAA D1 National Championship held in Lubbock, TX, but lost on the first hole of a playoff. TJ shot 7 under for the tournament with a 76 on the first day followed by 68, 67 and a last round 70. Aksel Olsen from Wallace State Community College won the playoff. TJ was named First Team All-American for his high finish.
MSU’s Renfroe wins Ferriss Trophy
The first time Mississippi State coach John Cohen saw Hunter Renfroe play baseball, he marveled at his natural ability.
Three years later, he's also in awe of his work ethic.
- (PHOTOS) Enterprise in the Class 2A State Championship Slideshow of Enterprise in the Class 2A State Championship fast pitch series.
- (PHOTOS) Newton County wins Class 4A Slideshow of Newton County in the Class 4A State Championship fast pitch series.
- (PHOTOS) Neshoba wins Class 5A Slideshow of Neshoba Central in the Class 5A State Championship fast pitch series.
Newton County beats Houston 10-0 to claim 7th fast-pitch championshi
Players from Newton County’s dugout barely made it to the foul line before a celebratory dogpile ensued here Saturday. Indeed, winning never gets old.
The Lady Cougars blanked Houston 10-0 Saturday at Freedom Ridge Park, completing an easy sweep of their best-of-three, Class 4A State Championship Series and gaining a measure of revenge after falling short a year ago.
Rockets roar by East Central, claim 5A crown
Trae Embry took somewhat of a gamble when he accepted the softball
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