Senior Marcus Murphy, shown above trying to break free from Noxubee County tacklers, will lead the West Point High School football team in a rematch against Olive Branch at 7 p.m. Friday. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch Buy this photo.
November 22, 2017 5:27:21 PM
West Point High School football coach Chris Chambless does not overthink games this late in the season.
For a second-straight week, the undefeated Green Wave will face a rematch in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A playoffs.
"Our philosophy is to always work on what we do best," Chambless said. "You can't get caught up in trying to change your identity. You focus on yourself and playing the best game you can. As long as you take care of yourself, you have a chance."
West Point (13-0) will play host to Olive Branch (12-1) at 7 Friday night for the North State championship.
During the regular season, West Point took a 51-7 victory.
Six weeks later, the teams will meet again. The winner will face Hattiesburg or Laurel at 7 p.m. next Saturday in Class 5A state championship game at Ole Miss' Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
"With two weeks left, we are trying to reach our final goals," West Point senior running back Marcus Murphy said. "This team has been focused throughout the whole season. We enjoy playing the game. It's now repetition. We just have to keep doing what we have been doing. The confidence level is high, but we try to stay humble. We know we will get everybody's best shot."
West Point has won 26-straight games dating back to 2016. It has won all 14 Region 1 games played in each of the last two seasons.
That region has enjoyed postseason success of late, setting West Point up for multiple rematches.
In the second round of the playoffs, West Point took a 32-13 victory at Grenada. West Point won the regular-season meeting 48-0 at home.
"Grenada has always been a difficult place to play," Chambless said. "They played well and gave us a game. However, we played well, too. When you go on the road, you simply want to survive. The fast start is what helped. It's so critical when you are on the road. You want to take the other team out of the game early."
A rushing touchdown by Marcus Murphy and interception return touchdown by Jason Brownlee did the trick. West Point had a 12-0 lead less than six minutes in. Murphy scored again the final seconds of the half to stretch the lead to 18-7 at halftime.
"Our goal is always to score first," Murphy said. "It matters more when you are on the road and don't have the home crowd supporting you."
West Point also applied the pressure early in the regular-season meeting against Olive Branch. The Green Wave built a 34-0 halftime lead.
In the win, West Point rushed for 409 yards and six touchdowns. Murphy ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns, while Nate Montgomery added 122 yards and a touchdown. Chris Calvert ran for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
"It was one of the best performances of the year from the offensive line," Chambless said. "We will take the same approach. Our goal is to always run the football. Hopefully, we can have some early success doing that. If you run the ball with success, it gives you more options on offense. The kids know what we are playing for. They are excited about this opportunity."
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Scott is sports copy editor and reporter