STARKVILLE — It’s been two long years since Starkville and West Point faced off on the football field.
Two years of agonizing waiting since Sept. 4, 2020, when the Yellow Jackets defeated the Green Wave, 40-28.
Starkville might have the overwhelming overall advantage in this matchup coming in, one that spans over 100 years and nearly 100 all-time meetings, but make no mistake about this game.
When the Yellow Jackets and Green Wave take the field, it’s anyone’s game, even more so now in this highly-anticipated matchup.
“This is one of those games where you don’t have to have too many motivating speeches to get them up,” Starkville head coach Chris Jones said. “This is one they circle on their calendar probably since they were young. This is one their uncles and aunts, grandads and grandmas even talk about.”
Starkville and West Point have been two of the best, if not the two best, teams in the Golden Triangle for quite some time, especially in recent years.
Both the Yellow Jackets and Green Wave are the reigning district champions, having both won in 2019 and 2017 as well.
West Point additionally won a district title in 2018, as well as four state championships from 2016-19, so looking at star power and hardware, these two programs have plenty.
That also means that when it comes to this matchup, both teams are going to throw everything they have at each other.
“We know we’re going to get their best shot, and we’ll give them our best shot, and we’ll see what happens,” West Point head coach Chris Chambless said. “Both teams are going to play hard. It’s a big game for both teams and both communities.”
Starkville (1-0) comes into Friday’s game with a chip on its shoulder having won its season opener on the road against Columbus.
The Yellow Jackets shut out the Falcons, 28-0, dominating in just about every facet of the game and the program has done its best to continue that positive momentum through this week.
“This week has been good,” Starkville senior Eric Thomas Jr. said. “Going through information about the game, looking at film, we’re ready for what they have coming.”
On the other side of things, West Point (0-1) had itself an uncharacteristically rough start to the 2022 season as it took on Louisville last Friday.
The Green Wave were shocked by the Wildcats late in the fourth quarter, throwing two interceptions that led to touchdowns, including a game-sealing pick-six, the exclamation point.
Practice for them this week has been focused on cleaning up those mistakes that ended up costing them a season-opening victory.
“We have been mentally focused all week,” West Point quarterback Kahnen Daniels said. “Practices have been intense, and we’ve just been focused.”
A win would be huge for the Green Wave to get back on track and back to a .500 record at 1-1, but coming into Starkville, even though there will be big crowds on both sides, is going to be a tough task.
Starkville is relishing the opportunity to play at home, to be able to translate from practices on its home turf to the bright lights on Friday night.
That home-field advantage in a game like this means so much more. Not only will both teams throw their best haymakers on the field, but the fans will be rowdy and raucous the entire time.
“It’s big,” Starkville quarterback Trey Petty said. “It’s going to be the home opener. Usually, we play better at home, so hopefully, we can continue doing that.”
The last two meetings have seen both teams combining to score 72 points a game on average, so if that’s any indication of what might happen Friday, expect a high-scoring affair with plenty of firepower and excitement on both sides of the ball.
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