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Walters column: Area teams make statements in opening week

 

Scott Walters

 

 

Typically, the first week of the regular season is not full of a lot of quality matchups. 

 

Instead, coaches are trying to get new some players some game action, officials are learning how to run the length of the field again and concession stand workers are making sure they have enough inventory for the season. 

 

That being side, the first week of the season in our area was slightly better than usual. Some teams even made statements. 

 

Not sure what kind of statement can be made in the first week of the season. That, being said notice was sent that some of our area teams may be playing for keeps this go around. 

 

Let's start Thursday night in West Point. The reigning Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A state champions opened with a 42-14 home win over Columbus. 

 

It will be hard to find West Point coach Chris Chambless saying negative things about his team this season. The squad is simply loaded. 

 

Still, you have no idea what you will get in an opener. 

 

West Point dominated Tupelo in every aspect of a scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium. That trend continued in the season opener. Scores on six first-half drives led to a 42-0 lead at halftime. 

 

It appears Chambless plans to use Marcus Murphy and his son Jake in a two-quarterback situation. Both play and play a lot. Quarterbacks are sometimes swapped out in between plays. Each provide the opposing defense something totally different to defend. 

 

Much like a year ago, West Point is severely under-valued on the line. Both the offensive and defensive lines have players who could play. The entire defense is lightning quick. 

 

After taking care of Louisville this week, West Point can then focus on Starkville. It may be their only game decided in the fourth quarter this season. 

 

Speaking of Starkville, people are still buzzing (pun intended) over the Yellow Jackets' season-opening 43-3 win over Noxubee County. 

 

An incoming text message Friday night said "Did you see that coming?" 

 

Well of course not. The Starkville-Noxubee County rivalry had created some great drama in recent years. More of the same was expected last Friday in Macon. 

 

Noxubee County took the first bite out of the apple and then Starkville ate the rest of the apple and the other dozen in the cupboard as well. 

 

Chris Jones' first Starkville squad is mega talented. The Yellow Jackets have size and speed to burn. 

 

The locker room is in better hands this season. Willie Gay was virtually a one-man leadership department last season. In Class 1A, one man can do everything. In Class 6A, it does not work that way. 

 

Jones has a brought a spark and passion to what he is doing. This comes at a time when Starkville is having unprecedented talent coming through the school. 

 

Consolidation with the Oktibbeha County School has also helped increase the depth. 

 

Starkville should have no problems with Oxford Friday. After that, we can go ahead and circle Starkville-West Point in week three. 

 

An educated guess says that one won't be 43-3. 

 

While still in Starkville, one of the more impressive Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) victories belonged to Starkville Academy. 

 

Coach Chase Nicholson's team routed Lamar School 43-21 at J.E. Logan Field. On Sunday, Starkville Academy was ranked No. 4 in the MAIS Class AAA poll by the Clarion-Ledger. 

 

In academies, the talent ebbs and flows based on number of players in a particular grade. Nicholson had to do some recruiting inside the school to build the senior class last year. This year, there are no such worries. 

 

Starkville Academy dresses around 40 players. Nicholson hopes that depth will pay off this season with fewer players having to go both ways. 

 

It certainly paid off in the opener. After losing 40-0 to Lamar a year ago, Starkville Academy led from start to finish Friday night and put a really big win on the board. 

 

Finally we go to Lowdnes County where West Lowndes opened the season with a 14-0 win over Caledonia to start the season. 

 

Each year, a handful of Class 1A schools beat Class 4A schools. The only way for that to happening is if the 1A school has enough depth to battle a larger opponent. 

 

If Anthony King has anything at West Lowndes this season, it is depth. The Panthers have good size and speed along both the offensive and defensive lines. 

 

With 35 players in uniform, not everybody has to go both ways the entire game. 

 

That helps immensely when it is 95 degrees on a hot August Friday night. 

 

Clearly, West Lowndes has a ways to go. The team will need to make some major strides on offense to win a Class 1A, Region 3 crown. 

 

Friday night, West Lowndes faces two-time reigning state champions Simmons. The Blue Devils last lost in 2014. 

 

Win that game and we will already know for sure who has the biggest statement win in week two. 

 

Scott Walters is a sports writer for The Dispatch. He can be reached at swalters@cdispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott.

 

Scott is sports copy editor and reporter

 

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