November 3, 2017 9:47:30 AM
WEST POINT -- Roger Burton doesn't use the word easily.
After all, West Point High School football hasn't been built on hyperbole. Its foundation has been laid through hard work and repetition. Some teams would call it boring. Others wouldn't answer the challenge of putting themselves up to the highest expectations every day in practice.
That's why Burton feels "relentless" fits defensive linemen LeDarrius Glover (senior end), Jaylen Cungious (junior end), Jamel Banks (senior tackle), Jaylon Webb (junior tackle), and Terence Cherry (senior tackle) so well.
"They practice really hard and play the game really hard," said Burton, who is an assistant coach to Chris Chambless. "They don't waste any reps at practice or in the games, and they take pride in stopping people."
While West Point's rushing attack has deservedly attracted plenty of headlines, the Green Wave defensive line has been a driving force behind the program's success this season. At 10-0, West Point is the top-ranked team in The Associated Press State poll. It will try to complete a perfect run through the regular season at 7 tonight when it plays host to Lewisburg on Senior Night.
West Point, the reigning Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A State champion, has clinched the No. 1 seed out of Region 1 (6-0) entering tonight's game. It will play host to a first-round playoff game next week.
West Point has scored 455 points and has allowed only 66 points, which is the fewest of any team ranked in The AP's top 10. No. 2 Pearl is closest to West Point (86). The Green Wave, who have three shutouts, haven't allowed more than 14 points in a game.
Burton said the defensive linemen have the same attitude as the offensive players on the team in that they want to be the best in the state. He said their willingness to put in the hard work in the offseason, in the weight room, and at practice sets them apart and allows them to dominate every opponent.
"We want to looked at as the best part of West Point," Burton said.
Burton feels he has five "starters" for four positions. He said Banks and Webb, who is in his third year playing football, rotate up front and give the Green Wave a system where each player contributes something to the puzzle. Glover, Banks, and Cherry have played together since the seventh grade.
Burton said that familiarity has been the glue that keeps them together and motivated on the goal of winning a second-straight state title. That bond extends to his relationship with the players because the same things that get him aggravated annoy the players.
"If they give up too many yards running the football, it pisses them off and it pisses me off," Burton said. "If they go through a drill and they don't have a good drill and they see I am mad, they don't want to make me mad. Very rarely here lately have I been upset with them."
Glover, who is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, feels relentless is a perfect way to describe the defensive line because he and his mates love to go full speed and dare opponents to try to stop them. Glover has proven to be a big handful with 21 tackles, including five for loss, and a team-high six sacks. Cherry is close behind with five-and-a-half. Banks leads the linemen with 22 tackles. Cherry has 20.
"We get after it every play. We can't be stopped," Glover said. "We give it our all."
Banks said going against the first-team offensive line prepares each unit for the marathon of a season. With each side not wanting to slow down or to give an inch of turf, the practices can be intense. Banks, who used to play on the offensive line, wouldn't play any other position.
"It is boring over there," Banks said. "I like tackling people and hitting people."
The love the linemen have for physical contact helps them set the tone in a program where each group is driven to dominate, even if it means another set within the team. All of the players the ability to dominate in practice will help the entire squad every Friday night. It also will enable West Point to realize its goal and help the seniors go out in style with another ring.
"I think we are the best defensive line in the state," Banks said. "All of us are equal. We can play the pass and the run. We don't have any weak spots."I
n Gordo 44, Pickens County 12: At Gordo, Alabama, Collin Herring rushed for two scores in the first half, and Essie Davis added another rushing score to lead the Class 3A Greenwave (9-1) to their victory against the Class 1A Tornadoes (8-2) in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) matchup of Pickens County rivals.
Aljaron Edwards connected with Elliott Perryon 72- and 89-yard scoring passes for Pickens County.
Both teams will play host to first-round playoff games next Friday.
n Nettleton 82 (B), Caledonia 46: The Caledonia High School boys basketball team lost its season opener Thursday night. In the girls game, Nettleton beat Caledonia 55-19.
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Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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