A second season couldn’t have come at a better time for the West Point High School football team.
The two-time defending Class 5A state champions haven’t had a typical start to the 2011 season. Checking in at 1-3, West Point will begin a string of seven straight Class 5A, Region 1 games at 7:30 tonight when it travels to Lake Cormorant.
“Our non-region schedule has been tough,” West Point coach Chris Chambless said. “Hopefully, it has prepared us for what lies ahead. There will be no easy games in our region. When you have the success we have had, everybody is gunning for you.
“It’s time to get started so we can see what kind of run we can have.”
After losing to South Panola and Columbus to start the season, West Point broke through with a spirited second-half in a 33-12 win against Starkville on Sept. 9. But West Point reverted to a familiar theme last week and made too many mistakes in a 22-17 loss at Noxubee County High.
The Green Wave led 14-6 early in the second quarter, but the Tigers rallied to tie the game at 14 at halftime. In the second half, a drive that stalled on downs at their 40-yard line and a couple of turnovers did the Green Wave in.
“We are struggling at finding ways to finish games,” Chambless said. “Each game there is a mistake here or there and it is hurting us dearly. We have to get better at every phase of the game.”
West Point had 300 yards total offense in the loss. Quarterback DeQuentin Spraggins threw for 148 yards and rushed for 69 more. The Green Wave have rushed for 200 or more yards in two of the past three games.
While West Point swept its region last season en route to a 14-1 finish, Lake Cormorant nearly pulled the upset before falling 28-27 in Clay County.
“They have some very good skill players,” Chambless said. “The couple of players who hurt us last year are back this year. It’s a road game and a tough opponent. We will have our hands full.”
The Gators opened with a 16-12 win against Sheffield, Tenn., before losing to Horn Lake (28-21) and DeSoto Central (36-6). Last week, LCHS won 10-8 at Rosa Fort.
Hebron Christian (2-1) at Park Place Christian (2-3)
With a renewed sense of confidence and a two-game winning streak, the Eagles will take to the road for an eight-man matchup against Pearl Park Place Christian at 7 tonight at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson.
“After last week’s open date, the kids are looking forward to another game,” Hebron Christian coach Tri Nason said. “We had some bumps and bruises, so the time off was good. Practice has been great. You can tell we have more confidence about what we are trying to do.”
After dropping the season opener, the Eagles re-tooled their offense and notched wins against Calvary Christian (42-8) and Clinton Christian (36-16).
“The adjustment period (to eight-man football) took a little longer than we thought,” said Nason, who was forced to move from 11- to eight-man football after not enough players came out for the team. “You have to attack more on offense. On defense, the primary tackle is very important. I think we have a better handle of our abilities now. We are doing some things differently and it has really paid off.”
Against Clinton Christian, Hebron Christian rallied from a 16-6 halftime deficit and finished with 456 yards total offense. Taylor Coggins had 175 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Will Corben Rogers was 5 of 9 for 64 yards and also rushed for 128 yards, including a touchdown. Marquez Robinson rushed for 89 yards and another score.
Park Place has dropped three of its last four. It has wins against Tallulah (26-20) and Ben’s Ford (19-0) and has lost to Winona Christian (42-7), Prentiss Christian (27-20), and Porter’s Chapel (27-0).
Oak Hill (0-5, 0-2) at Canton (2-3, 1-1)
The Raiders will remain on the road for another MAIS Class 2A, District 2 matchup at 7 tonight in Canton.
Oak Hill Academy will continue to look for answers on offense after being shut out by Manchester Academy (37-0) and Winona Christian (40-0) in its past two games.
Oak Hill has three offensive touchdowns in five games.
“It does not get easier,” Oak Hill Academy coach Benjie Merchant said. “Canton had Winston (one of the favorites in the district) on the ropes right up until the end. They have an offense which is capable of making big plays and scoring some points. We will have to play hard and find a way to compete.”
The Raiders again will shuffle players for tonight’s game. Oak Hill Academy has played without a pair of injured linemen and a couple of key defensive players for a couple of weeks.
“We continue to work hard,” Merchant said. “The effort is there. We just haven’t been able to put it all together for four quarters. We will keep working hard, lifting weights, and trying to get better as a team.”
Canton Academy opened the season with losses to Tri-County (28-14) and Madison-Ridgeland (64-0). It then defeated Hillcrest Christian 39-7. In district play, Canton Academy lost to Winston Academy (51-37) and beat Immanuel Christian (25-14).
The teams didn’t meet last season.
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.