MABEN — Fans of the West Oktibbeha High School football team’s “fast-break offense” have grown accustomed to video game-like passing statistics in the past few years.
The die-hards who’ve packed the stands at L.M. Hamberlin field this season have noticed a major shift — partly out of necessity — but also out of common sense.
On Friday, workhorse Tiberias Lampkin was again the centerpiece of another lopsided Timberwolves’ victory, a 44-8 rout of West Lowndes High.
Lampkin, a senior running back, finished with 228 yards on 30 carries and three touchdowns. Lampkin cracked the 200-yard barrier for the fourth time this season. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven of eight games.
Lampkin is on pace to finish the season with more than 2,000 yards and 11 yards per carry, nearly double what he averaged a year ago for the Timberwolves (7-1, 5-0 Class 1A, Region 3). Why the increased load?
West Oktibbeha’s youth at receiver and coach Adam Lowrey’s acknowledgment that the team’s running game will be its strength.
“It don’t make no difference how we get there,” Lowrey said. “We’re not worried about stats. That’s why Von’s not getting the shine he used to. Last year, I was more concerned with throwing the ball; Now, I’m concerned with winning — bottom line.”
Up until Friday, Lampkin hadn’t carried the ball more than 22 times in a game. He had to be helped off the field twice against West Lowndes, showing obvious signs of fatigue from playing offense and defense. Still, with games against division front-runners Noxapater and Pelahatchie to finish the regular season, Lowrey isn’t afraid his star back will wear down.
“Nope,” Lowrey said, “not worried at all.”
Lampkin breaks plenty of big runs, but his physicality between the tackles wears teams down. It’s borderline intimidating, Panthers coach Anthony King said.
“Everyone knows how well (West Oktibbeha) throws the ball, but you know what’s coming (Lampkin),” said King, whose team slipped to 3-5 and 2-3. “Lampkin is a strong kid. Once he got going, I don’t think some of our guys were willing to take that lick all night. I hate to say it like that, but we weren’t physical enough.”
Lampkin had scoring runs of 3, 16, and 20 yards in the first three quarters. He has 26 touchdowns this season.
The Timberwolves received three touchdowns from Smith, including a pair of touchdown passes to Lavante Tate.
West Oktibbeha will travel to East Oktibbeha next week, while West Lowndes will play host to Nanih Waiya.