September 19, 2012 11:09:28 AM
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter had an idea about his team.
But even after coaching many of the seniors on the Noxubee County High School football team since they were in seventh grade, Shorter liked that his Tigers answered the call Friday night against one of their biggest rivals.
"There is not quit in this team," Shorter said. "Our backs were against the wall several times and they didn't hang their head. A lot of them wanted to complain about the referees, at times, but they overcame adversity."
As a result, Noxubee County was able to remain unbeaten thanks to a 6-0 victory against Class 5A power West Point. The victory helped Noxubee County move back to the No. 1 spot in this week's Associated Press state poll. Noxubee County also climbed to No. 5 in the overall rankings.
It isn't lost on Shorter, either, that the victory came at the same time in the schedule as in the 2008 season when the Tigers won their first state title.
The 2008 season remains a source of motivation for the 2012 team, which features 23 seniors and is focused on winning a state title before it leaves the school. Shorter feels winning a battle in a physical matchup with a tradition-rich program will give his players confidence as it prepares for its last non-region game at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Kemper County.
"Our motto is dominate and believe," Shorter said. "These guys believe they can win ballgames like that."
Shorter praised a defensive effort led by senior lineman Dylan Bradley (five sacks) that overcame untimely penalties to make a goal-line stand in the final minute. A 43-yard touchdown run by Darrell Robinson gave the Tigers the only score they needed.
While the offense had trouble moving the ball against a West Point defense Shorter said was similar to the Tigers' unit, he credited senior quarterback DeAngelo Ballard for making the right decisions that kept the Tigers out of trouble. He also said Ballard did a fine job in the kicking game to help Noxubee County win the battle of field position.
"He has really grown up and took on the leadership role," Shorter said. "He didn't hurt us at all. He made some great plays and some great audibles and took some big hits and didn't fumble the ball."
Next week, Noxubee County plays host to Kosciusko in its Class 4A, Region 4 opener. Shorter knows it is natural for many in town and some of his players to look ahead to a game against Louisville on Oct. 18, but he said his team can't get caught up in that talk and has to remain focused.
"I think we need to improve on our passing game in order for us to be a complete football team," Shorter said. "Our defensive coordinator, George Richardson, and our defensive coaches came up with a great scheme to stop West Point. My hat goes off to my coaches. They are doing a great job."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.