September 25, 2009 7:57:00 AM
The time to be disappointed at Noxubee County High School has ended.
A week ago, West Point defeated Noxubee County 20-12 to end the Tigers'' 18-game winning streak.
The rain-soaked loss featured an inconsistent performance by the offense that left coach M.C. Miller open to changes for his team''s game against Memphis (Tenn.) Sheffield.
This week, sophomore quarterback Jared Johnson and senior running back Earnest Harmon split time at quarterback in practice. Miller said Johnson will start but that the Tigers (4-1) will go to Harmon if Johnson struggles.
"Jared has responded all right," Miller said. "He knows he is not quite ready. He has been willing to keep working. We pushed him hard to get ready. He is a smart young man. He understands we will do what we can to win."
Johnson completed 7 of 17 passes for 113 yards against West Point, but the poor field conditions and the play of West Point''s defense prevented him from being able to get the offense clicking.
Harmon relieved Johnson in the fourth quarter, and even though he connected on only 2 of 5 passes for 99 yards (thanks to wide receiver Terrance Barron), he helped the Tigers get on the scoreboard and put them in position to have a chance to tie the game.
Despite rallying, Noxubee County, the defending Class 4A champions, still had to deal with their first loss since the 2007 Class 4A title game. Miller said the players were disappointed because they knew a number of mistakes helped deny them an opportunity to continue their winning streak.
"They were a little down, but when you get beat by a good team it is not like getting beat by a team that you''re capable of beating all of the time," Miller said. "We knew we made a lot of mistakes, and the mistakes are what hurt us. If not for the mistakes it could have been different. We are working hard to correct our mistakes because we don''t want to make them again."
Miller said no team likes to lose, but he said the West Point game might help his team re-focus. He said he saw signs his players might have been getting a little too cocky. This week, he said he saw a more focused team that worked harder, even in a week where more rain made it difficult to find time to practice outdoors.
"They knew what they did wrong and have to correct from the last game before we get into district play," Miller said. "The loss could be a building block before we go into district play."
Noxubee County will open Class 4A, Region 4, District 4 play next week when it travels to Kosciusko.
Miller isn''t sure if the Tigers will have senior wide receiver/quarterback Vincent Sanders back for that game. He said Sanders, who is still recovering from a broken jaw he suffered Aug. 21 against Starkville, won''t play this week.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.