December 6, 2010 2:10:00 PM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Stop it. I dare you.
You might think it''s simple.
After all, you know what''s coming, or at least you think you do.
That''s the beauty of watching the West Point High School football team.
The Green Wave roll confidence, execution, and talent into one big wave and challenge you to stay afloat for 48 minutes.
You might do your job for a series or two -- maybe even three, like Brookhaven did for stretches Saturday in the Mississippi High School Activities Association. But more often than not West Point is going to pull you under.
West Point showed again that its will is the greatest in Class 5A, dominating the line of scrimmage en route to a 21-3 victory.
The win helped the Green Wave cap a 14-1 season and win their second consecutive state title, and seventh overall.
The latest triumph might have been more impressive than the 35-14 victory against Wayne County in the 2009 title game. The Green Wave "only" rushed for 215 yards last year, but received a lift from wide receiver Michael Carr, who caught a touchdown pass from Justin Cox and returned a kick for another score.
This year''s victory might have eclipsed that one thanks to a running attack that pounded out 325 yards on 61 rushes.
The fact that the Green Wave averaged more than 6 yards per carry every time they handed the football off is a credit to their ability to execute up front. West Point''s formation''s were tighter that a vacuum-sealed bag of sweaters. Running backs Lakenderic Thomas (35 carries, 165 yards) and Tez Pulliam (four-24) and quarterback Justin Cox (20-138) did the damage behind an offensive line of Romia Wilson, Willie Swift, Lederrius Taylor, Nadarrius Eckers, and Johnathon Jones, with help from Michael Bush and Tommy Keys.
The Green Wave didn''t include much deception, save for one play in which Cox went in motion and Pulliam, running of the "Wild Green Wave," burst through another hole for a first down. They also didn''t give the Panthers very much help, committing only one fumble, which came in the fourth quarter with the game decided.
Other than that, Thomas barreled up the middle and to either side and Cox used his speed to get outside nearly every time they wanted. With each tick of the clock you knew the Green Wave were a step closer to another title.
West Point coach Chris Chambless joked after the game that a "trick" play for the Green Wave might be a "counter." He said his players learn how to play "West Point football" as early as the seventh grade and then work hard to master their techniques so they can join the teams that have dominated and proved they are the best in the state.
"Anything less than coming to Jackson to the West Point community and to our football program is not a complete failure, but is unacceptable, so to speak," Chambless said. "We told the guys all year, we''re a bunch of survivors, and with the tough times in West Point right now, we''re all we''ve got and our community is all we''ve got, and we''re all our community has on Friday nights. They will spend their last dollar to come watch us play. We did this for West Point tonight. We''re very proud of where we live. It is a great place to be."
Chambless is careful with his words, and typically never says anything to motivate an opponent. As "figurehead" of a talented coaching staff, Chambless often saves his best remarks for his players. He has been known to dress up to motivate his team, but he also takes pride in preparation and execution and how those weapons help the Green Wave prove people wrong.
Don''t let the fact that the offense was so dominating allow you to forget what the defense did. Aside from the opening drive, when quarterback Duwone Harris used his speed to put West Point on its heels, the Green Wave''s speed and strength up front was too much.
It would have been interesting to see how the game would have turned if Brookhaven hadn''t fumbled at the West Point 2-yard line on the opening drive. Instead, the fumble gave the ball back to West Point, which appeared motivated from the series. The offense responded with drives of 80 and 85 yards to sap the will from the Panthers.
Brookhaven ran eight plays in the third quarter. The Panthers didn''t get the ball in the fourth quarter until 5 minutes, 35 second remained. By that point the score was 21-3 and the outcome was all but decided.
That''s why it was a little surprising to see a comment from Brookhaven senior center Mitch Case in his local newspaper. Case said West Point has a "great team," but he added another comment that should have many scratching their heads: "West Point is pretty good, but I still think we should have beat them."
High school student-athletes sometimes don''t express what they mean the right way, so we''ll give Case the benefit of the doubt. But, as many West Point opponents have discovered the past two years, talk is cheap.
So again, the challenge has been issued: Stop it. I dare you. The clock is ticking. You have 363 days to prepare before next year''s title game.
Adam Minichino is sports editor of The Dispatch. He can be reached at: [email protected]
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.