West Oktibbeha County High School is setting its sights on a legitimate run at the Class 1A, Region 3 football championship this season.
The Timberwolves look for a third straight region win Friday night when West Oktibbeha (4-1 overall, 2-0 region) plays host to Sebastopol (2-3, 1-2).
Kickoff for West Oktibbeha’s homecoming is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Maben.
In other Region 3-1A matchups Friday night, Ethel (2-4, 0-3) is at Pelahatchie (5-1, 3-0) and West Lowndes (3-2, 2-0) is at Noxapater (4-2, 3-0). Thursday night, Weir (1-5, 0-3) visits Nanih Waiya (1-4, 0-2). East Oktibbeha (2-4, 1-2) has an open date.
“The kids have really responded with the start of region play,” West Oktibbeha coach Adam Lowrey said. “To advance in the playoffs, it helps to have home-field advantage. With six region games left, we have our goals in reach and we are putting ourselves in a position to play for the region championship.”
West Oktibbeha made it two straight to start region play with Friday night’s 54-6 win at Weir. Senior running back Tiberias Lampkin ran 22 times for 279 yards and five touchdowns. Senior quarterback Von Smith completed 6-of-9 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, senior Johnny Chambers led the way with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery.
“It was a solid all-around effort,” Lowrey said. “Both Tiberias and Von have stepped up and taken the leadership role on the team. The kids are really focused. Even though we had a good year last year, we struggled to finish region play on a strong note. This year, the kids expect better and they are working hard to get to this point.”
Last season, West Oktibbeha did finish 7-5, including a 5-3 region mark. However, late region losses to Noxapater and Pelahatchie cost the Timberwolves a chance to host in the playoffs.
“To play for a championship, we knew we had to play better defense this season,” Lampkin said. “I think we all got a taste (of success) last season. Now, we are working hard to get into the playoffs and to play for a championship.”
The offensive numbers for West Oktibbeha continue to be staggering. Smith has completed 36-of-78 passes for 775 yards and 14 touchdowns. Lampkin has now rushed for 862 yards and 17 touchdowns, with 11 of those coming in region play. Junior Lavante Tate has 384 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
“We just have to continue to get better,” Lowrey said. “There are always areas where you can get better. Our job as coaches is to keep pushing these players. The players have to keep working hard. What we have done so far is make sure that we have meaningful games to play the rest of the way.”
Sebastopol defeated East Oktibbeha 42-20 in its region opener. Since then, the Bobcats have lost region games to Noxapater (45-7) and Pelahatchie (44-20).
West Oktibbeha won last season’s meeting, 48-22.
Elsewhere in the region, East Oktibbeha takes the week off, after dropping a 14-0 decision at West Lowndes last week. The Titans return to region play by hosting Noxapater Oct. 5.
Starkville Academy (3-3, 1-1) at Copiah Academy (0-6, 0-2)
While Starkville Academy may have struggled more than players or coaches would have liked this season, the Volunteers still have a district title to pursue and a playoff berth to nail down.
The Volunteers can take another huge step toward each of those goals when Starkville Academy travels to Copiah Academy for a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA, District 2 matchup.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday in Gallman.
“We have a lot to play for,” Starkville Academy coach Jeff Terrill said. “However, we have to keep working hard. We have to get better each week. The goal is to host in the playoffs. We can do that, but the only we can do that, is if we keep working hard and keep improving.”
The Volunteers had two untimely turnovers in a 49-21 home loss to Jackson Prep Friday night. Jackson Prep is in District 2, along with Starkville Academy. However, the Raiders are in Division 1, while the Volunteers are in Division 2.
Starkville Academy is 1-1 in district play, which leads the Division 2 category. Another win against winless Copiah could place the Volunteers in good shape, heading into the final three district games of the season.
“We have had simply too many turnovers,” Terrill said. “You can’t make mistakes and beat the elite teams. That is an area where we have to improve for the rest of the season.”
Prep scored three second-quarter touchdowns, while building a 21-0 halftime leader. However, the Volunteers comeback was slowed by each of the turnovers, which took place in the third quarter.
The Volunteers ran for 144 yards, including rushing scores by Drew Pellum and Colby Runnels. Pellum also hit Hunter Bolin for a 24-yard scoring play.
Copiah Academy dropped a 44-12 decision to Presbyterian Christian Friday night. The closest defeat for the Colonels was a 13-7 setback to Central Hinds Academy.
Starkville Academy won last season’s meeting, 34-26.
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.
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