September 13, 2012 1:14:00 AM
The lights will be turned on at West Point High School's Hamblin Stadium for the first time this season Friday night.
And boy what a house guest the Green Wave has coming.
In the fifth week of the prep football season, No. 10 West Point (2-1) finally plays its home opener, playing host to sixth-ranked Noxubee County (4-0).
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"The bigger the challenge, the better we like it," West Point senior quarterback Tez Lane said. "We are excited about finally playing at home and showing our fans what West Point football is all about."
West Point has been battled-tested already this season. After a hard-fought 12-10 loss at South Panola, the Green Wave remained on the road to dispatch Columbus (26-19) and Starkville (47-22).
"The first part of our schedule is extremely demanding," West Point coach Chris Chambless said. "It will make a young team grow up quickly. Fortunately, we have a lot of veterans so they have been through the battles."
While the West Point defense answered the bell in the season opener, the offense looked like a work in progress.
While Aeris Williams and several mates returned in the backfield, Lane was asked to shift from being a marquee running back to being the squad's quarterback.
"Tez is a competitor and a leader," Chambless said. "Obviously, a new position is just that, it is a new position. So it takes some time. However, we never had any doubts that he would be able to make the transition."
West Point played its most complete game of the season in Friday night's win over Starkville.
The Green Wave actually erased a 15-7 deficit with a pair of touchdowns late in the first half.
That would be a foreshadowing of things to come as West Point rushed for 335 yards and blew the contest open with 27 second-half points.
The victory was especially sweet since Starkville knocked West Point out of the playoffs last season.
"We wanted to play well because we know this is the type of team we will have to beat to get to Jackson," Lane said.
"The attitude was great leading into the game. Everybody was really excited to go."
The Green Wave mauled the Yellow Jackets at the line of scrimmage. West Point only attempted two passes. Granted, the Green Wave completed all of them and half of them went for touchdowns.
"We have an identity," Lane said. "We know what it is. It is not like we are going to go out and throw the ball all over the field. We will keep working hard at what we do best."
West Point has only attempted 10 passes this season. The Green Wave did not throw a pass in the win over Columbus.
"The key is long drives and not turning the ball over," Chambless said. "If we do what we are supposed to do, it wears on the other team."
Meanwhile, Noxubee County brings to town a spectacular rushing attack in its own right.
Senior Darrell Robinson has rushed for 626 yards and 12 touchdowns in Noxubee County's first four games.
Quarterback DeAngelo Ballard has also seen steady improvement. Ballard has thrown for 397 yards and four touchdowns.
Noxubee County comes to Clay County fresh off a 45-0 victory over Aberdeen. Defensively, the Tigers have allowed five touchdowns for the season.
Noxubee County won last season's meeting, 22-17.
Mt. Salus (2-1)
at Hebron Christian (4-0)
Hebron Christian celebrates Homecoming Friday night, by playing host to Mt. Salus Christian High School.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Pheba.
"It's early in the year for homecoming, but we are looking forward to a big week," Hebron Christian coach David Foster said.
Last week, the Eagles remained unbeaten with a 38-28 win at Clinton Christian.
Austin Foster had three touchdowns for Hebron Christian. Taylor Coggins added an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"We played really well in all phases," Foster said. "We had too many turnovers, but there is not a lot to be critical about."
Mt. Salus lost 34-6 to Humphreys Academy last Friday.
The teams did not meet last season.
Winona Christian (2-2)
at Oak Hill Acad. (2-2)
Oak Hill Academy looks to snap a two-game losing streak when it plays host to Winona Christian.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday in West Point.
The Raiders had a tough outing last Friday, collecting 49 yards of total offense in a 27-6 loss to Manchester Academy.
Palmer White had the lone touchdown on a 45-yard fumble recovery.
Joseph Caskey paced the defense with seven tackles, while Drake Riley had six.
Winona won, 40-0 in 2011.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter