October 22, 2009 8:57:00 AM
Bubba Davis hopes last week was just the beginning.
The Columbus High School football coach will find out Friday if the Falcons have started a trend when they play host to Horn Lake at 7 p.m. in a Class 6A, Region 1 game at Columbus Stadium.
Columbus (2-6, 1-3 region) is coming off a 12-7 victory against DeSoto Central that snapped its 10-game losing streak in region games. Sophomore running back Damian Baker rushed for a career high 224 yards and two touchdowns to help keep the Falcons in contention for one of the top four spots in the region and a playoff berth.
For Columbus to accomplish that goal, it will have to win Friday night and at Olive Branch and at home against Starkville in the regular-season finale to put it in position for what could be a fourth-place finish in the region.
South Panola leads the region at 4-0, while Southaven, Olive Branch, and Starkville are 3-1. Columbus, Horn Lake, and Tupelo are 1-3, while DeSoto Central is 0-4.
Davis, who is in his second season at Columbus High, said he enjoyed seeing his players so excited following a game. He was even prouder that they continued to play hard and "got over the hump" to snap a six-game losing streak this season.
Whether that momentum continues Friday night remains to be seen, but Davis said the Falcons had good days of practice on Monday and Tuesday, and that the players are attentive and re-energized following their first victory since the season opener against Class 3A Aberdeen.
"We just have to hope that winning was so much fun that they''re going to do it again," Davis said.
Horn Lake (3-5) is coming off a 28-27 loss to Olive Branch last week, and a 34-6 loss to Starkville and a 13-6 victory against DeSoto Central in its previous two games.
Senior running back Jay Jones is averaging 101.8 yards per game for Horn Lake.
Columbus will try to counter with Baker and a running game that moved the ball well last week. Davis said the Falcons need to get past mental mistakes like not blocking the right man and not finishing tackles or not lining up in the right coverage on defense and not lining up in the right coverage to maintain their momentum.
Davis said the defense continues to play well despite those mistakes last week. He said the defense has been consistent with the exception of a loss to South Panola.
"The kids have been doing a good job playing hard and running to the football," Davis said.
The Falcons will try to maintain that intensity this week so they can continue the building process.
"A week ago, it was hard to imagine we had lost six ballgames in a row, and it was hard for 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old kids to realistically think that what we keep telling them -- that if we win we have a chance to make the playoffs -- is going to happen," Davis said. "When we finally win they can see it for themselves and that we really do have a chance.
"We have been in games that we could have easily won and we made the mistakes that prevented us from doing it. They were playing hard, but we just didn''t get over the hump. We needed to get over the hump, and we need to have another Friday night like we had last week. If we do that it will do more for us than anything. Hopefully they''re going to like the feeling they had after the game last week and do things exactly like we need to to win another one."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.