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Calvert fuels West Point's ground assault


West Point High School senior running back Chris Calvert is tied with classmate Marcus Murphy for the team lead with 14 touchdowns. Calvert is second to Murphy with 880 rushing yards.

West Point High School senior running back Chris Calvert is tied with classmate Marcus Murphy for the team lead with 14 touchdowns. Calvert is second to Murphy with 880 rushing yards. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch


Adam Minichino



WEST POINT -- Chris Calvert isn't into bragging rights. 


That doesn't mean the West Point High School senior running back doesn't enjoy a little friendly competition with backfield mates and classmates Marcus Murphy and Nate Montgomery. 


Calvert, Murphy, and Montgomery have had plenty to talk about through eight games. 


Coming off a 51-7 victory against Olive Branch last week, West Point has piled up 2,762 yards rushing on 326 carries (an average of 8.5 yards per carry). Murphy leads the way with 110 carries for 936 yards. He is tied with Calvert for the team lead with 14 touchdowns. Calvert is close behind with 89 carries for 880 yards. Montgomery rounds out the three-headed monster with 44 carries for 334 yards and four touchdowns. 


"No doubt, we are the best running backs in the state of Mississippi," Calvert said. "I wouldn't trade (the offensive line) for anything." 


West Point (8-0, 4-0 Region 1) will look to add to its total of 38 rushing touchdowns at 7 p.m. Friday when it plays host to Grenada (4-5, 3-1) in a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A, Region 1 matchup. 


If West Point's 345-yard per game average holds for seven games, which would take it through the Class 5A State title game in December at Ole Miss' Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, it would finish the season with 5,177 yards. That total would shatter the mark of 4,316 (308.3 yards per game) rushing yards set in 2015. That mark is the Green Wave's highest in the last eight seasons. West Point rushed for 50 touchdowns in 2009, which was the most in that span. 


The 5-foot-9, 177-pound Calvert was quick to credit the offensive line of KeAris Smith (left tackle), Jameek Price (left guard), Draylon Rieves (center), Zameek Price (right guard), and Daveion Reives (right tackle). That group was recognized earlier this season for helping West Point for 391 yards on 52 carries (average of 7.5 yards per carry) in a 28-3 victory against Starkville.  


But West Point's running backs deserve plenty of love, too. For Calvert, the workload is a return to normalcy after he missed more than two months last season due to a concussion. After gaining 6 yards on six carries against Columbus on Sept. 9, Calvert returned Nov. 18 and had nine carries for 122 yards and three touchdowns in a victory against Oxford. Calvert added five carries for 80 yards in a victory against Lake Cormorant and 10 carries for 64 yards against Laurel to help the Green Wave win the Class 5A State title. 


West Point running backs coach Alex Williams said Calvert took it hard being limited to six games due to the concussion. Still, he said he saw Calvert stay mentally ready and attend practice when he could so he knew what to do when he was cleared. Williams saw the same preparation from Calvert in the summer and in the preseason. 


"He practices extremely hard," Williams said. "Everything is full speed with him. You will never see him take a half-speed rep if he is blocking or if he has a ball in his hands. The younger guys see that. We hope they carry that on, but he is the lead-by-example type of person." 


Williams said he knew Calvert was going to have a big senior season because he said he did the "little things" coming out of the spring. He said Calvert understood blitz pickups and was a willing blocker. Williams said that work wasn't surprising because Calvert is part of special group that he said wants it and "gives their all in everything they do." 


"This is the first place I have been where the seniors will turn around and tell the guy, 'Hey, you need to pay attention because you may have to do this on Friday,' " Williams said.  


Williams said Calvert will do everything he can to help push the Green Wave toward those marks. He said he won't do it by being the loudest player on the field. Instead, Williams said Calvert will do it by being the hardest worker and by setting the example for his teammates. 


Calvert tipped his cap to Montgomery after the victory against Olive Branch. Murphy led the way with 16 carries for 141 yards and three touchdowns. Montgomery had nine carries for 122 yards and a touchdown, while Calvert added nine carries for 81 yards and two scores. 


In a 45-7 victory against Lake Cormorant, Calvert had the upper hand with 13 carries for a season-high 22 yards and three touchdowns, which matched the season high he set in the season opener against Columbus. 


"All of my goals I have achieved this year, I couldn't have achieved them if it wasn't for my teammates, the coaching staff, and, most of all, God," Calvert said. "When I was out, I prayed I could come back and play the sport again, and God gave me another chance to come back. I came back harder because my teammates and coaches pushed me on and off the field. Without their help, I couldn't have accomplished what I have accomplished this year." 


Calvert said he wouldn't have been able to come back as strong as he has if it wasn't for the support of his teammates. He said his goal always has been to be the best in everything he does. With Murphy and Montgomery pushing him, Calvert knows he has plenty of motivation. That doesn't bode well for any opponent that plays West Point this season. 


"I always tried to do things perfect, which I know everything is not going to be perfect, but I am always going to give 100 percent effort whether it is right or I make a mistake," Calvert said. "When my teammates or my running backs see me going full speed, that makes them want to do the same thing. We compete against each other on and off the field. 


"Like I said once before, I couldn't have done the things I have done without my teammates, coaches, and my 'O' line. The 'O' line is my everything. Those are my guys. I will do anything for them." 


Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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