August 19, 2012 1:48:36 PM
MABEN -- For all the experience the West Oktibbeha High School football team had returning this season, one wouldn't think coach Adam Lowrey would worry about his skill positions.
The Timberwolves' four-wide passing attack, led by senior quarterback Von Smith, averaged more than 35 points a game last year. But with key seniors gone, Lowrey was unsettled on the slot positions.
Jerell Daniels, Lavante Tate, and Ryan Hughes showed Lowrey he had nothing to worry about Friday as each hauled in touchdown passes from Smith in a 66-6 victory against S.V. Marshall High.
Everyone in Class 1A is familiar with Smith, senior wideout Kelsey Jefferson, and senior running back Tiberias Lampkin; Hughes, a sophomore, and Daniels, a freshman, showed future opponents the Timberwolves' offense has reloaded.
"I had someone tell me we were gonna have to change what we do because we graduated folks," Lowrey said. "I told that individual we're going to be better than we were last year. I think our boys know their role. We've condensed what I want them to do down for everybody; it's still wide-open in concept, but in regards to what they're doing and the plays, they know their role."
Daniels had touchdown receptions of 7 and 9 yards in the first quarter, each on the same route in the left corner of the end zone. Hughes scored on a 14-yard reception in the second quarter to give West Oktibbeha a 52-0 lead. Receiver Lavante Tate, a junior, also had a touchdown reception.
"We started Jonathan Love in the slot and brought Tate back to the receiver position," Lowrey said. "We have eight seniors starting on offense. These are the same kids I had to bring up from eighth grade not too long ago. It's coming to fruition now."
Still, Lowrey said that just one week ago he was unsettled on a receiver rotation. Lowrey said his decision wasn't so much about formations or particular plays, it was more about who was ready mentally.
"I prayed about this weekend, and before I got here Monday I knew what I was going to do," he said. "The four of them just happened to walk by at the same time during breakfast, so I pulled them aside and told them what we were going to do. It's not about the Xs and Os ... it's about the Johnnys and the Joes."
Smith finished with 145 passing yards and completed all six of his passes. He threw five touchdowns and ran for a 45-yarder.
Senior running back Tiberias Lampkin ran for 108 yards and three touchdowns. Lampkin said the Timberwolves practiced with greater toughness and emphasis on a physical ground game after being one-dimensional last year and losing to East Webster by one point in their preseason jamboree.
"Monday, it was Oklahoma drills, zone running drills," Lampkin said. "(Lowrey) really gave me that chance to help carry the team."
1. Five for five: Morris ready to lead Columbus basketball program HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Latest near-miss keeps Columbus winless HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Kelly has Caledonia in position to earn playoff berth HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Heritage Academy turns tables on Starkville Academy in 21-7 victory HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS