November 29, 2009 12:19:00 AM
The game plan is simple.
On one side of the football, the West Point High School football team lines up, fires off the line of scrimmage, and dares you to stand in its way.
Its style of play is its brand: West Point football.
On the other side, the Green Wave delight in bringing pressure and flooding to the ball to stop any and all playmakers.
The strategy is straight-forward -- old school, if you will -- but it has helped West Point control games and dominate opponents.
On Friday, old school football was more than effective to push the Green Wave back to a familiar destination.
Justin Cox rushed for three touchdowns, passed for another, and guided a rushing attack that piled up more than 300 yards to lead West Point to a 41-21 victory against New Hope in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North Half State title game at Trojan Field.
The victory moves West Point (13-1) into the state title game against Wayne County (11-3), which defeated Moss Point 32-28 on Friday, at 7 p.m. Saturday at Mississippi Memorial Coliseum.
The Green Wave will shoot for their first state title since 2005, when they beat Wayne County 17-15 for the school''s fifth state crown.
"It is justice right now," West Point High coach Chris Chambless said. "It feels good, but we have some unfinished business to do. Just getting there is special to us, but we don''t want to just get there. We want to win it."
West Point will represent the North thanks to a black, blue, and green running game that piled up 345 yards on 37 carries. The Green Wave didn''t attempt a pass in the second half and used touchdown runs of 91 yards by Cox, 38 yards by Lakenderic Thomas, and 8 yards by Xavier Hogan to stay one step ahead of the upset-minded Trojans, who finished the best season in school history at 11-2.
"We played hard all year long," New Hope coach Michael Bradley said. "We are a very resilient bunch, and we didn''t quit tonight. We just came up against a better football team. Hats off to West Point. They have a real good ballclub and they should have a chance to win the state championship next week."
Bradley admitted the Trojans would have had to played a "near-pefect ballgame" to advance to play for the school''s first state title in football. Although New Hope threw for 157 yards and moved the ball well at times, the Green Wave always made the plays that kept them in front.
A bruising performance by the Green Wave offensive line and a stable of running backs that includes mainstays Hogan, Thomas, and Jacoby Lee also proved too difficult to control.
"They fire off the ball and they hit you in the mouth," New Hope senior defensive lineman Seth Stillman said. "They run block like champs. You couldn''t find a better run blocking offensive line. They fire off the ball and they hit you in the mouth every time. ... They point at you and they say, ''I have got 40. I have got 55,'' and then they go hit you and that is the end of it.
"They do what they do but they execute. They fire off the football. It all starts with their offensive line."
Cox, a junior in his first year as starter, provided the spark when needed. Trailing 21-7, New Hope failed to capitalize on two 15-yard personal foul penalties at the start of the third quarter and pooch punted the ball back to West Point. Zak Thrasher''s punt pinned the Green Wave at their 6 with 10 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the quarter. Facing a third-and-7 from the 9, Cox took a keeper and watched the flow of play go to the right. Seeing an opening, he scooted to the left and raced 91 yards for a momentum-changing touchdown.
"We had the game plan, we had it all picked out, and the cutback lane was open all night, and they hit it all night," Stillman said. "They did what they do. They run up the middle, and they came in here and they said they were going to do it, and they did. It hurts, but I thought we shut down their up-the-middle run pretty well. They just had a cutback lane and we weren''t wrapping up. That has been a problem with our defense. We have struggled with that the past two weeks."
Terrance Dentry (17 carries, 62 yards) kept New Hope in the game on the next drive when he capped a 13-play possession with a 12-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal. Tanner Ryals'' kick made it 28-14 with 2:36 to play in the quarter.
But West Point had an answer
Cox (seven-137) converted a fourth-and-2 to help West Point keep the ball into the fourth quarter. Thomas (13-132) then went into the hole and bounced the football outside en route to a 38-yard touchdown run. Kwame Williams'' extra point gave the Green Wave a 35-14 lead.
New Hope gained one first down on its next drive, but the Green Wave allowed zero, -4 and -6 yards on the next three plays to force a punt.
West Point took advantage, using Hogan, a senior playing with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, on five of the six plays on the next drive. He capped his 35-yard effort with an 8-yard touchdown burst that all but wrapped up the North Half State title.
"The last drive was a dagger," Hogan said. "We needed that. That''s why they gave me the ball. I see myself as a leader. I have their back and whenever they need me I am here. I am their Mr. Reliable. I may not break 1,000 yards rushing, but I have got them whenever they need me."
New Hope added a 1-yard run by Thrasher with 2:08 to play. The score came following a delay in the action after an ambulance had to be called to take Dentry from the field. The junior running back took a late hit out of bounds and remained motionless on the ground for several minutes. He gave a thumbs up sign to his teammates and to the New Hope crowd as he was carted off.
The injury and the loss dampened the excitement surrounding New Hopes season, but Bradley praised his players for their effort and the Green Wave for their play this season. West Point beat New Hope 35-8 on Oct. 2 to help it win the Region 1, District 2 title.
"I thought we played fairly well," Bradley said. "We had three or four drives where we moved the ball into the red zone or close to the red zone and came away with no points. You can''t do that against a good team like West Point. We got the interception on the first play of the ballgame and moved it down close and we got nothing. You have to cash in on those opportunities."
"Every time we would get within that one play, as you said, they''d make it. That''s what a good ballclub does, and give them credit. A lot of the mistakes we made were because of their pressure."
Chambless had plenty of compliments for New Hope and his players, too. The fourth-year coach, who took over at West Point the season after the 2005 state title, hopes the Green Wave can continue a playoff run that has seen them defeat three opponents by an average of 28 points per game.
"Coach Bradley has done an excellent job," Chambless said. "I told him after the game what he has done at New Hope is unbelievable. I can''t say enough about the job he has done. It has amazed me and a lot of other coaches around the state the job he has done and to get the athletes out. He has done an excellent job.
"We work extremely hard in practice. We block our ones in practice. It makes our ones go a lot better. Football games are won in the trenches. When you can come out and do stuff like that and run the football it helps establish the tone. That is what we want to do every week."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
Observer commented at 11/29/2009 1:12:00 AM:
Dentry did NOT take "a late hit out of bounds."
Dentry was horse-collared at least 3 yards out of bounds on a blatant cheap shot.
This young man's life could very well have been cut short on that play.
I realize that you always run a risk of serious injury when you play football, but this wasn't a clean hit nor a borderline call nor a case of boys being boys.
This was a dirty cheap shot that taints everything West Point has accomplished this year.
Indy commented at 11/29/2009 11:48:00 AM:
I do hope the Dentry kid is ok. However, as a Greenwave fan for decades, I know dirty play is not what the West Point program tolerates. New Hope had a great season, so please don't "taint" it by throwing sour grapes at West Point. Remember, West Point has been here before (5 State Championships), and it does not get there with dirty play....its because of off-season program, hard work, and desire!
Boomer commented at 11/29/2009 1:56:00 PM:
This is football and no one heard a whistle blow. Guys are thought to play until they hear a whistle which they did. As I WP Fan and former player I reached out and got in contact with Dentry and he is ok.
Lewis the guy that made the tackle was worried on the sideline to if he was ok or not. Nothing was cheap about the play.
ABD commented at 11/29/2009 10:01:00 PM:
If anyone will take the time to find out the truth they will find out that Dentry was not tackled by the collar. I have seen the tape in slow motion of this play and he was caught by the back of the jersey and thrown to the ground. I'm so glad to hear that he is ok, but this is a contact sport and unfortunately kids sometime do get hurt. I must say I was disappointed with the New Hope fans as they tried to entice the players into starting a free fall, but in the same token I praise the New Hope coaching staff for keeping a lid on it all. My hat is off to a great bunch of kids (New Hope) and their coaching staff who had a great year and have a lot to be proud of. I expect to see New Hope right up there again next year battling to be the North State Champs.
Walker commented at 11/30/2009 12:44:00 AM:
I agree with the last poster, I was really disappointed with the way New Hope fans acted. WP players walked onto the field to take a knee and as a show of support for an injured opponent, and New Hope fans tried to start a riot.
Also, I'm glad to hear Dentry is ok. He is a heck of a player and a good representative of New Hope.
olderfan commented at 11/30/2009 9:04:00 AM:
I have watched West Point play for over 10 years. Don't give me this crap about how they don't play dirty. You have got to be kidding me when you say they don't and what they did to Gentry was unforgivable. He's lucky to not have a serious injury from what was flagrant on the part of the West Point player. This isn't the first time I have seen them play dirty, both in football and basketball. Friday night was nothing new in the playbook of West Point. The Trojans have worked hard off the field and in the weight room the past three years and it's gotten them where they are. WP isn't the only team to work hard.
betterfan commented at 11/30/2009 10:59:00 AM:
It sounds like older and observer are stomping out some sour grapes. New Hope is to be congratulated on their fine season. But don't cheapen that season by being bad sports- It's classless the way ya'll are trying to berate the West Point program and student athletes as being "dirty". Football is a rough game. West Point never has been a dirty program-- just an historically good program. From the way ya'll are whining, you're probaby fans of That School up North as well.
Be better sports- the better team won FAIR and Square.
Go Big Green and GO DAWGS!! 41-27
Boomer commented at 11/30/2009 11:43:00 AM:
Learn your own players name before trying to bash a program. His name is Terrance Dentry not Gentry. This rivalry started back in 97 with that brawl in West Point. There has been dirty play but Friday night was not the case at all. Sorry that Dentry was hurt but this is FOOTBALL not tag. Good thing is that he is just sore but ok.
Glennda commented at 11/30/2009 12:23:00 PM:
I hated to see Dentry get hurt and I was praying that he was okay! And I am glad to see here that he is. I attended WPHS, but no longer live in West Point. We made the drive up to New Hope to see the game, as well as last Friday night game in West Point against Pearl. I must say that I saw better sportmanship from these two teams (West Point and New Hope) than I have seen from any of the private schools that I have watched in recent years. These coaches and players are to be commended for this! This goes a long way in being good at what you do both on and off the feild. Congratulation to both West Point and New Hope! Best wishes Green Wave on Saturday--show what you are made of in the "Big House"!
ABD commented at 11/30/2009 8:25:00 PM:
Observer, you were probably one of the New Hope fans that were really trying to promote and entice the New Hope players to start a brawl, which I'm sure in your thinking would be just fine. It's people like you that make the headlines at tee ball games that attacked the referees and the other teams tee ball players. You must not go to very many games because I've heard a lot hard hits that were harder than this one. Grow up or stay at home.
Boomer commented at 11/30/2009 9:34:00 PM:
Observer, have you ever played football a day in your life? Football is a more faster & physical game now days. Lewis did nothing wrong in the game. So what does he have to think about?
If what you saw was a dirty play then you know nothing about football
Booke commented at 12/5/2009 9:53:00 AM:
Go Green Wave !!!! New Hope sucks anyway.