September 15, 2009 11:39:00 AM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
MABEN -- A clogged running lane or a solitary tackler isn''t enough to stand in Josh Poe''s way.
If he wants to get to the end zone, he will find a way.
Such was the dilemma for the West Oktibbeha High School running back Friday night in overtime against Noxapeter.
Tied at 28, Poe hurdled a teammate and a defender and scored the go-ahead points on a 10-yard touchdown run.
Poe then did his best Bo Jackson impersonation, bulling past a defender to tack on the two-point conversion.
The points helped West Oktibbeha beat Noxapater 36-28 for its first victory of the season.
The touchdown was one of three on the evening for Poe.
For his accomplishments, Poe is The Commercial Dispatch''s Prep Player of the Week.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound junior running back rushed for 41 yards on 11 carries. He had touchdown runs of 4, 2, and 10 yards. He also had three catches for 40 yards as the Wolverines (1-2) piled up 438 yards offense.
Poe said he received the football on "33 dive option" and he bounced his run away from a congested middle to the open field. With one block, a linebacker, and a small space in front of him, Poe went to the air.
"I jumped and I guess God gave me the strength (to get over him) and I made the end zone," Poe said.
Poe liked that taste of the end zone so much that he tried it again.
On "24 power," Poe saw a "huge" hole in the middle. A middle blocker stood in his path, but Poe didn''t hesitate.
"I was like, ''It is me or him for a touchdown,'' " Poe said. "I lowered my shoulders and it was a head-on collision (at the 2-yard line). I guess the best one won."
Poe didn''t play much in the first half after he received a hit to the side of his head. He returned in the second half to play a key role. He finished the game with a forced fumble, a pass breakup, a quarterback hurry, two solo tackles, and two assisted tackles.
West Oktibbeha coach Adam Lowrey said Poe, whose brother, Gabe, is a member of the East Mississippi Community College football team, is a leader who can be counted on to raise his level of play when needed most.
"If you tell him to do something, he is going to do it," Lowrey said. "The heartbeat got back into the game (in the fourth quarter), and it made the difference."
Lowrey said Jeremy Brown, played well without Poe in the lineup, but he said the Timberwolves are a different and more effective team when the cousins are on the field together.
On offense, West Oktibbeha quarterback Von Smith was 32-for-50 for 350 yards. Lowrey said the majority of the passes were screen passes to the running backs.
When the Timberwolves needed it, though, they were able to run the football, thanks in part to Poe.
In overtime, Poe turned a simple dive call into a touchdown by bending his run back in and cut back out to help the Timberwolves.
"I think it was just his desire to win," Lowrey said. "He just jumped over one of my guys who was blocking on the play. My assistant coach came to me and asked, ''What is the next play?'' "
Poe didn''t disappoint on the conversion attempt.
Even though half of the offensive line blocked out instead of down, Poe capitalized on the opening up the middle.
"SLAP. That was all you could hear," Lowrey said, smacking his hands together to demonstrate the collision between Poe and the middle linebacker. "You''ve got to see it. The way he hit him, man it was pretty, and he walked into the end zone.
"Our team peaked at the end, and it was a wonderful game. He makes a big difference."
Lowrey said Poe would rather not talk, but he doesn''t shy away from being a leader. He said Poe usually is the first player to arrive and the last one to leave.
It isn''t surprising that Poe is a leader. Lowrey said Poe assumed that role last season when he started the season playing quarterback.
Lowrey, who arrived at the school right before the start of 2008-09 year, said he needed time to get to know his players. When he and his assistant coaches re-evaluated the players and decided to go with only the players they could depend on.
This season, Lowrey and his coaches did some more tinkering with the lineup, moving Poe from wide receiver to running back.
The switches were designed to put people at their natural positions.
"We are just going to go up from here," Lowrey said. "Once we get these linemen strong in the weight room, we are going to turn this 1A dynasty around."
Poe is focused on helping the Timberwolves get to the top. He said he intends to follow Lowrey''s instructions and then make sure his teammates follow his lead.
The task is challenging considering the Timberwolves (15 players) have one of the smallest football teams in the state, but Lowrey said Poe is the ideal leader to motivate, to inspire, and to help West Oktibbeha do what people might think they can do.
"He has instincts you can''t coach," Lowrey said. "He will make a college coach very happy one day."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.