November 20, 2009 7:56:00 AM
WEST POINT -- Noxubee County and Aberdeen should feel special.
The 2009 edition of Mississippi Sports Magazine singled out the Tigers in Class 4A and the Bulldogs in Class 3A as top teams in each classification in its preseason issue.
In Class 5A, Pearl and Oxford join Wayne County, West Jones, D''Iberville, and Brookhaven, a team to keep an eye on, were listed as the state''s top teams.
It''s not that the West Point High School football team needs any motivation at this point of the season, but the Green Wave (11-1) will have something to prove at 7 tonight when they play host to Pearl (9-3) in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North Half State playoffs.
The Pirates come into tonight''s game riding a five-game winning streak. They defeated Oxford 28-14 to advance to the North Half state semifinals.
The Green Wave have won 11 in a row since a season-opening loss at Shannon. They defeated Canton 36-0 last week for their third shutout of the season.
"We had maximum effort," West Point High coach Chris Chambless said. "As long as we have maximum effort each week we have a chance. That is all we prepare for each week. We are just playing the best we can."
Chambless said tonight''s game should feature two physical football teams that are capable on both sides of the ball.
"You can say we are similar because he like to run the ball a majority of the time," Chambless said. "They are a veer, mid-line option type of team, and we''re a run-right-at-you, powers and leads (type of team), so the similarities are there."
Chambless said both teams set the standard in the weight room. He said he knows Pearl coach John Perry and understands the Pirates will be in top shape to test his team''s strength.
"Whoever is going to want it the most is what it is going to turn out to be," Chambless said.
West Point will look to junior quarterback Justin Cox to direct an offense that features a multi-headed monster at running back. LaKenderic Thomas, Jacoby Lee, and Xavier Hogan are just three of the Green Wave''s options on the ground. If West Point''s rushing attack pounds you to sleep, senior Michael Carr, a Mississippi State football commitment, has the ability to slap you awake in the passing game.
"I like our confidence," Chambless said. "We''re not cocky. You have to have confidence to make yourself believe you can do it. Our offensive line believes it can block anybody. We''re playing with great confidence."
On defense, West Point''s ability to control the line of scrimmage has allowed it to regroup from its only loss of the season and to remain focused on a goal that has been talked about all season.
"They are going to be very physical with the run and they have two tall wide receivers they can throw it up to who have great hands," Chambless said of Pearl.
Talk of advancing to play in a state title game in Jackson has been whispered in West Point all season, regardless of what any magazine said in the preseason. That talk and the expectations have increased each week, but Chambless said the Green Wave haven''t allowed those things to be distractions.
Instead, those things have steeled their resolve and made them more dedicated to earn the right to play to win their first state title since 2005.
"They want it real bad," Chambless said. "They''re taking it as a business opportunity and they know it is do or die. They know that too many mistakes are going to cost them big time. They are not going to quit or back down after one mistake or two mistakes. They are going to keep playing hard and try to minimize the number of mistakes they make. That has been our goal this season, and, for the most part, we have been doing that."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.