October 24, 2010 12:09:00 AM
Jason Browne - firstname.lastname@example.org
WEST POINT -- The West Point High School football team''s 49-0 victory against Saltillo on Friday night was everything anyone could want from their homecoming.
The Green Wave (9-1, 5-0 Class 5A, Region 1) shut out the Tigers (3-7, 0-6), everybody and their brother got a chance to touch the ball, a previously limited passing game exploded for almost 200 yards, and the coach of the nearby nationally ranked university was spotted stalking the sideline.
Defensively, West Point was solid. There weren''t any highlight sacks or interceptions, just a stalwart line which, despite the absence of seniors Tommy Keys and Vontarrius Dora, never let Saltillo cross West Point''s 20-yard line.
Keys is battling concussion symptoms, and Dora has an injured shoulder.
West Point shined on offense, scoring on all six of its possessions in the first half before removing its starters. Senior quarterback Justin Cox twice connected with Jamarius Tallie for touchdowns, one for 43 yards. Senior tailback LaKenderic Thomas picked up two more touchdowns and 51 rushing yards. Junior Dequinten Spraggins scored on a short run. Cox also hit Mario Virges for a 24-yard score to help the Green Wave build a 42-0 halftime lead.
Cox might have been the reason Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen visited Hamblin Stadium. West Point coach Chris Chambless said MSU is recruiting Cox, and he put on a show for Mullen, going 10-for-10 for 179 yards and three touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 86 yards on three carries.
Chambless said Cox probably wasn''t the only player energized by Mullen''s presence.
"It may have made us play a little harder. I don''t know," Chambless said. "Just their presence here, even to the community, means a lot."
Chambless used homecoming to spread the wealth. Twelve players had carries, seven caught passes, and many more received playing time.
The Green Wave''s B team pounded the ball straight ahead in the second half. Makarios Sears still managed to add one more score on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Despite not playing at full speed, West Point reached fourth down just once during the game.
An uncharacteristic 12-for-12 passing game was likely aided by the level of competition, but Chambless said his team has been working hard on its aerial skills. The Green Wave are best known for their grinding running game.
"It makes you smile. We usually don''t even throw over seven passes in a game," he said. "We know when we need that passing game we''ve got it. I love our no huddle."
Senior Quad Freeman had 15 carries for 55 rushing yards to lead Saltillo. Junior quarterback Chase Watson was 4 of 14 for 55 yards. The Tigers gained 135 yards of total offense to the Wave''s 537.
West Point will continue its division schedule next week when it travels to Clarksdale. A victory would help the defending Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A champions clinch the top seed in the district with one regular-season game remaining.