West Lowndes anticipates first test of the season

September 11, 2009 9:08:00 AM

Adam Minichino - [email protected]


Bobby Berry hopes to make it two in a row this week. 


A week ago, the West Lowndes High School football team went on the road and defeated Class 4A Caledonia. 


The Class 2A Panthers improved to 3-0 with the victory and set the stage for this week''s game against Class 3A Philadelphia (3-0). 


And while Berry credits Boykin and the Confederates, he believes tonight''s (7:30) home game should be a bigger test against another higher classification opponent. 


"They have got a lot of speed, they''re fast, and they do a lot of different things," Berry said. "We''re going to have to play our best and do the best we can. Hopefully, we will come out on the winning side." 


Berry praised the play of senior quarterback Courtney Lucious, who threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns last week. He also ran for another score and paced the Panthers with 80 yards rushing. 


Running back Antonio Wilson (12 carries, 59 yards) also had a strong game against Caledonia. Berry said the Panthers will need the entire team to limit its mistakes tonight because Philadelphia will be ready. 


"They have a lot of athleticism, and they are going to come out and hit you," Berry said. "They have got a good football team. Not that they can''t be beat, but we''re going to have our hands full and we''re going to have to get after it and be ready to play." 


Berry said West Lowndes has to improve its play in the secondary this week. He said the Panthers allowed too many long passing plays, even though they allowed only 127 yards to Caledonia''s Brandon Bell. 


Philadelphia coach Teddy Dyess hopes the Tornadoes will be able to exploit that area of the Panthers'' game. 


The Tornadoes will look to senior running back Brandon Willis and sophomore quarterback Lee Smith to lead the offense. 


"Brandon is a really good player who is a three-year starter," Dyess said. He has really developed into a good player. 


"Lee started at quarterback in game four for us last year and is mature beyond his years. He is mature beyond his years and does things that makes the coaches on the sidelines say, ''Wow.'' " 


Philadelphia comes into the game with victories against Class 1A South Leake (52-0), McClain (36-14), and Neshoba Central (40-14). 


"We have 16 returning starters, so we knew we had a chance to be pretty good," Dyess said. "Anytime you can go 3-0, especially with one of the wins coming against a Class 4A school (McClain) and one coming against a 5A school (Neshoba Central), that''s pretty good." 


Dyess went 10-3 in his first season and 9-3 last season. He said the Tornadoes expect to make the playoffs again this season and plan to use an attack he said is "more balanced this year than it ever has been" to realize that goal. 


In past years, Dyess said Philadelphia would run the ball 80 or 90 percent of the time. This year, he said that percentage is down to about 60 percent. 


Six-foot-2, 210-pound C.J. Johnson, a "freak" according to Dyess, and Julian Riddle, a 6-4, 210-pounder with a "motor that never stops" lead the defense. 


"We run the ball well, pass well, block well, get after it pretty good, and are fast on the edge," Dyess said. "If we stay injury free and keep improving we have a chance to make a deep run." 


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.