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West Oktibbeha faces region test; Starkville Academy back home

 

Scott Walters

 

As the weeks pass, the stakes get higher and higher for the West Oktibbeha County High School football team. 

 

The Timberwolves have started Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A, Region 3 play with four straight victories. 

 

West Oktibbeha will try to make it five straight Friday night when West Lowndes comes calling. 

 

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Maben. 

 

With four weeks left on the region schedule, Pelahatchie (5-0), Noxapater (5-0) and West Oktibbeha (4-0) are the unbeatens in region play. 

 

"The goal for this team is not to only make postseason but to win enough games to make it to Jackson (for the state championship)," West Oktibbeha coach Adam Lowrey said. "The first step toward that is winning the region championship. We have put ourselves in a position to compete for it the final four weeks of the season." 

 

The Timberwolves will actually play county rival East Oktibbeha before facing off with the two giants in the region. 

 

West Oktibbeha won five region games last season. That mark could be reached with a victory against West Lowndes (3-4, 2-2). 

 

"The kids got a taste of what kind of program we could become last season," Lowrey said. "They have worked real hard during the off-season to get back to that point and to go even deeper in the playoffs." 

 

Last season, West Oktibbeha secured the fourth seed in the region and did make the playoffs. The season ended with a 43-8 first-round loss at Natchez Cathedral. 

 

"Sometimes, we got a little complacent," Lowrey said. "We had a successful season and there were times we let our guard down. This year has been totally different. The players do not take a play off, in practice or in games. 

 

"The focus has been really great. It is incredible to see what is going on with this football team." 

 

West Oktibbeha has won four straight since a 41-10 non-region loss to Eupora. Inside region play, the Timberwolves are averaging 50 points per game. 

 

The Timberwolves are allowing 16 points per game defensively. 

 

"We have made great strides on defense," Lowrey said. 

 

Offensively, Von Smith has completed 53-of-110 passes for 1,113 yards and 18 touchdowns. Smith has been intercepted twice. 

 

On the ground, Tiberias Lampkin has rushed for 1,236 yards and 23 touchdowns. Smith has rushed for 453 yards and three more scores. 

 

In the receiving department, Lavante Tate has a team-high 18 receptions for 512 yards and 10 touchdowns. Kelsey Jefferson has 11 receptions for 223 yards and five scores. 

 

After a 2-0 start, West Lowndes has lost back-to-back region games to Noxapater (28-0) and Pelahatchie (40-6). 

 

West Oktibbeha won last season's meeting, 36-30. 

 

East Oktibbeha (2-5, 1-3) 

 

at Pelahatchie (7-1, 6-0) 

 

East Oktibbeha looks to enhance its postseason chances while pulling the biggest shocker of Region 3-1A play in a 7 p.m. start Friday at Pelahatchie. 

 

The Titans are facing the region's elite powers in succession. Last Friday, East Oktibbeha dropped a 48-6 decision to Noxapater. 

 

After facing Pelahatchie Friday, East Oktibbeha faces county rival West Oktibbeha next Friday. 

 

"It is a difficult stretch," East Oktibbeha coach Randy Brooks said. "This is where you find your leaders. We need some players to step up and help us get the job done." 

 

In the loss to Noxapater, the lone East Oktibbeha touchdown was a 43-yard scoring strike from Justin Williams to Destin Covington. 

 

The Titans fell behind 28-6 at halftime and were undone by three interceptions. 

 

Pelahatchie has won five straight since an early-season loss to Lake. Pelahatchie knocked off West Lowndes 40-6 in its last region encounter. 

 

Pelahatchie won last season's meeting, 41-24. 

 

Winston Academy (3-4) 

 

at Starkville Academy (3-3) 

 

Starkville Academy will tune up for next week's district championship battle with East Rankin Academy by stepping outside of district play to host Winston Academy Friday night. 

 

Kickoff is 7 p.m. at J.E. Logan Field. 

 

The Volunteers are back at .500 after last Friday's 35-12 loss at Parklane Academy. 

 

Starkville Academy's lone offensive touchdown was a 38-yard touchdown pass from Drew Pellum to Colby Runnels. 

 

For the season, Runnels leads SA with 427 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Pellum has completed 43-of-86 passes for 692 yards, with six touchdowns and six interceptions. 

 

Hunter Bolin leads the receivers with 17 catches for 284 yards and four touchdowns. 

 

Stephen Robertson has a team-high 33 total tackles with two sacks, a forced fumble and 11 tackles for loss. 

 

Winston Academy lost 24-7 at Simpson Academy last Friday night. 

 

Starkville Academy won last season's meeting, 55-12.

 

Scott is sports copy editor and reporter

 

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