STARKVILLE — A year ago, the West Point High School football players left Starkville High with heads held low and a bitter taste as they saw their playoff run cut short.
The Green Wave washed out that taste Friday night as they rolled to a 47-22 victory against the Yellow Jackets on a clear, humid night.
West Point coach Chris Chambless and quarterback Tez Lane remember that slow, heartbreaking walk off the wet grass and returned with vengeance in their minds.
Lane said he had marked the game on the schedule, and was ready for a rematch against the team that stole his Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state championship dreams.
“Starkville versus West Point is always a rival game, and it always will be,” Chambless said after meeting with his squad. “We played hard and were fortunate to come out on top.”
West Point started slowly and trailed for most of the first half. But the Green Wave scored late in the second quarter to take a 20-15 halftime lead.
Lane remembered that feeling of defeat and wouldn’t have it happen twice in a row. He and his teammates were amped up for the game and said that enthusiasm played a crucial role in the outcome, and that the Green Wave (2-1) would have to maintain it.
“We can’t thrive on this win,” Lane said. “We know we are going to see Starkville again and we have to come out and play just as hard as we did this time. We can’t come out slow next time. We have to come out fast and quick and do our thing.”
West Point relied on a running game that amassed 335 yards. Lane was a huge contributor, as he had several plays that looked dead but wouldn’t be denied and turned a 2-yard run into a 20-yard run.
“If there’s nothing there, you have to make something out of nothing,” Lane said.
Lane, a former running back who is starting at quarterback this season, said he keeps his eyes wide open whenever he runs the ball and keeps his head on a swivel.
“Lane is getting better every week,” Chambless said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Lane said he will have a 24-hour memory. He and his teammates are happy with the victory against Starkville, but he said they know they have to forget about it and go back to work Monday to prepare for Noxubee County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Chambless said. “We’re going to have to play as hard as we can and as perfect as we can to have a chance, and that’s what we’re going to work toward this week.”