October 3, 2012 10:48:02 AM
Scott Walters - firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier this season, West Oktibbeha County High School received a wake-up call in a one-sided loss to Eupora.
The setback rousted the Timberwolves and set them off on a three-game winning streak. West Oktibbeha will look to continue that streak at 7 p.m. Friday when it takes on Ethel for its Homecoming in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A, Region 3 game.
West Oktibbeha (5-1, 3-0 region) defeated Sebastopol 46-24 last Friday night at home. The Timberwolves have outscored region opponents 152-50.
"This is a big turning point for us (defeating Sebastopol)," West Oktibbeha offensive/defensive lineman Johnny Chambers said. "Eupora opened our eyes and showed us we had to get much better."
West Oktibbeha scored three first-quarter touchdowns. Quarterback Von Smith had two rushing touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, and an interception return for a touchdown.
"To make big plays on offense, possession plays are just as big," West Oktibbeha coach Adam Lowrey said. "That all comes with confidence and experience. We'll be playoff eligible soon, anyway, but we're fighting for the district title. To get the little things corrected and to get better is huge."
The Timberwolves committed two turnovers and Lowrey felt like the team didn't have its usual offensive flow.
"We had a poor week of practice," Lowrey said. "We've got some room to improve. If we can build off of our positives, we can be really good. That's what we are going to focus on. The big plays we gave up in the passing game shows some of our inexperience."
While Ethel (2-5, 0-4) is winless in region play, showdowns against Pelahatchie and Noxapater, who are unbeaten in the region, loom on the horizon.
"Our goal is December," Lowrey said. "(We have to do) whatever it takes to get there. I think (the win over Sebastopol) is going to really prepare us. We've got some big games coming up, and we've got to be ready for the grind."
With 204 rushing yards against Sebastopol, senior Tiberias Lampkin (1,118 yards) topped the 1,000-yard mark. He also has 18 touchdowns. Smith needs 27 more yards to reach the 1,000 yards passing.
The Timberwolves lead the region with 284 points, an average of 47 per game.
Ethel has lost four straight, including a 38-7 loss last Friday' at Pelahatchie.
West Oktibbeha won last season's meeting, 42-18.
Noxapater (5-2, 4-0) at East Oktibbeha (2-4, 1-2)
After this season's open date, East Oktibbeha returns to the rigors of Class 1A, Region 3 play with a 7 p.m. Friday showdown against region unbeaten Noxapater in Crawford.
"The time off was good for us," East Oktibbeha coach Randy Brooks said. "We really concentrated on the little things. We spent the time worrying about ourselves and how we can become better as a football team."
The Titans are still searching for more consistency on offense. While playing a bunch of new faces, East Oktibbeha has been unable to sustain drives and to take advantage of opportunities provided by the other team.
In its last outing two weeks ago, East Oktibbeha lost to West Lowndes 14-0 in a region matchup. It was the first time East Oktibbeha failed to score this season.
"Defensively, we played well," Brooks said. "Offensively, we couldn't create any momentum. Turnovers also hurt us. We just have to pay better attention to detail."
With five region games remaining, East Oktibbeha remains in the playoff hunt. The top four teams in the region will qualify for the playoffs.
"There are three unbeaten teams in the region and we face each of them over the next three weeks," Brooks said. "We will have to play our best. Hopefully, we can get some early confidence and make some breaks."
Noxapater has won five straight, including a 28-0 region victory against West Lowndes last Friday. The Tigers have allowed two touchdowns in region games.
Noxapater won last season's meeting, 41-18.
Starkville Academy (4-3, 2-1) at Parklane Academy (6-1,2-0)
Starkville Academy and McComb Parklane Academy played one of the stranger football games of the 2011 regular season.
On the way to an appearance in the state championship game, Starkville Academy took a 7-5 victory at J.E. Logan Field in Starkville.
The teams will meet again at 7 p.m. Friday in McComb in a Mississippi Independent School Association's Class AAA, District 2 game with playoff implications.
"We have done enough to make the games we play in October meaningful," Starkville Academy coach Jeff Terrill said. "You want to play games that lead to the playoffs. We still control our destiny for first place."
The Volunteers moved to 2-1 in district play last Friday with a 40-0 victory at Copiah Academy. All four Starkville Academy victories have been by shutout.
"Defensively, we have played well for the most part," Terrill said. "Offensively, we have made strides. We are trying to become more consistent on both sides of the ball because that is what it is going to take the rest of the way."
Against Copiah, junior fullback Michael Miller set the tone for Starkville Academy with a pair of first-quarter rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Drew Pellum had a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown.
While both teams are in Class AAA, District 2, Parklane Academy is in Division I and Starkville Academy is in Division II. Thus, the contest will count in the district standings, but Parklane Academy won't be a factor in Starkville Academy's quest for home field advantage in the playoffs.
Starkville Academy likely will play for a chance to play at home in the playoffs on Oct. 19 when it plays at East Rankin Academy.
Parklane Academy has won four straight games, including a 41-0 district victory last Friday at Hillcrest Christian.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter