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West Point continues dominance, blanks Grenada

 

By Will Nations, Special to The Dispatch

 

 

WEST POINT -- Jamel Banks broke into a large smile when he learned the West Point High School football team's defensive numbers against Grenada on Friday night. 

 

The defensive lineman, who had four tackles and two sacks, still couldn't believe the video game-esque statistics. 

 

But when he paused to consider the motivation his team brings to the table every game, he said that dominance isn't as hard to imagine. 

 

"We want to be the best defensive line and the best defensive unit in the state of Mississippi," Banks said. "We want to put up these types of stats every week. We are going to try and dominate every snap." 

 

West Point limited Grenada to 77 yards, and Marcus Murphy had three touchdowns in a 48-0 victory in a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A, Region 1 game at McCallister Field. 

 

The victory helped reigning Class 5A State champion West Point (9-0, 5-0 region) stretch its winning streak to 22 games dating back to Sept. 9, 2016. 

 

"We still have some aspects of the game we have to clean up," West Point coach Chris Chambless said. "We had a very strong defensive night, and the offensive did its job, too." 

 

West Point's defense set the tone with punishing tackles that stifled Grenada's running attack and prevented an aerial threat. It sent the visitors off the field quickly with three three-and-outs and never allowed them to build an offensive rhythm.  

 

The defense preserved the team's second shutout in the third quarter. Following a lost fumble at the West Point 14-yard line, Grenada (4-6, 2-3) lost 5 yards in three plays. Banks' second sack was included in the mix. Ryan Melton then blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt.  

 

"We like feeling that kind of pressure," West Point senior linebacker Xavier Fair said.  

 

Fair (eight tackles, three tackles for loss) filled gaps and delivered thundering hits. Rasson Carr, Jaylen Cungious, and Brandon Lairy added tackles for losses. Defensive backs Tyler Rupert, Tray Brownlee, and Melton made it impossible for the Chargers to complete any passes. 

 

"We pride ourselves in being a run-stopping team. We don't want anybody to run against us," Fair said. "When we force teams to pass the ball, we have great players in the secondary who can make big plays for us, too." 

 

The offense did its part, too. Murphy rushed for a team-high 114 yards, Chris Calvert added 110, and Nate Montgomery had 108. The trio gained 332 of the team's 396-yard total.  

 

Senior wide receiver Jason Brownlee provided balance with three receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns. On his third reception, Brownlee stretched a 7-yard catch into a 38-yard gain as he weaved through defenders. The pass set up Murphy's 7-yard score that made it 28-0 at halftime. 

 

Murphy helped West Point race to a 14-point advantage midway through the first quarter. The senior connected with Brownlee on a 34-yard strike to cap an eight-play drive. Murphy then scrambled 45 yards on a draw play on West Point's next possession. 

 

"All-around execution helps make those big plays," Chambless said. "The guys up front our blocking well, and the skill guys are using their ability to break those big runs and passes." 

 

West Point, which is ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press rankings, has outscored region opponents 249-28. It is averaging 372 rushing yards and 149 passing yards in those five games. West Point's defense is allowing an average of 66 yards rushing and 32 yards passing. 

 

The stats are part of a mind-set that drives West Point to dominate every week. 

 

"We just want to be the best," Banks said, with a laugh and a smile.

 

 

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