West Point High School football coach Chris Chambless, left, and senior running back/quarterback Marcus Murphy hold the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A State championship trophies from the last two seasons. The Green Wave won 29 of 30 games in the last two seasons. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff Buy this photo.
December 23, 2017 10:49:30 PM
WEST POINT -- West Point High School football coach Chris Chambless has several pre-game speeches ready to for the 2018 season.
He also has some halftime and practice speeches saved.
"Didn't have to give any speeches this season," Chambless said. "That was the best thing about this year (the 2017 season). The players knew what to do. When you have a great group of seniors leading the way, coaching becomes easy. This may have been the easiest season I have ever had.
"When players buy in and seniors lead, that's a dream for a coach."
Chambless helped lead West Point to a second-straight Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A State championship. The Green Wave recorded the program's first 15-0 finish by winning every game by at least 19 points.
West Point has now won back-to-back championships with 29 wins in the last 30 games.
For his accomplishment, Chambless is being honored today as The Dispatch's Large Schools Coach of the Year. He is sharing the award with Noxubee County High's Tyrone Shorter, who led his team to the MHSAA Class 4A State title.
"Playing for coach Chambless has been incredible," West Point senior running back Chris Calvert said. "All of the coaches are here to push you. They want the best, but they also don't ask anything from you that you can't do. The West Point tradition is the best one in the state. It has been great being part of that tradition."
Chambless inherited one of the premier programs in the state. Under his leadership, the Green Wave have continued to excel in the classroom and on the playing field.
After winning the 2010 state championship, West Point had been waiting on the next opportunity to break through. Calvert and Marcus Murphy teamed up during their sophomore season to help the team win 11 games. The framework was set with a senior-laden team that dominated every game.
"This may have been the most focused team I have ever coached," Chambless said. "When you win a championship, there is a chance that you take a step backward. Instead, we challenged the guys with becoming elite. When seniors can leave with a pair of championships, it's special. When you can define your legacy with a pair of championships, that is how you separate yourself."
West Point prefers to run the football. The Green Wave count on size and speed on the offensive line to pave the way for talented running backs. West Point throws the football enough to keep the other team's defense honest.
Murphy and Calvert combined to run for more than 3,300 yards with 56 touchdowns.
"I think the most pleasing aspect of this year's team is we did it the old-fashioned West Point way," Chambless said. "There were no gimmicks, no tricks. We lined up and ran the football effectively. The defense was outstanding. That was probably the best defensive unit I have ever been around."
A year ago, West Point won its final 13 games to finish 14-1. The Green Wave did that with as many as eight juniors starting on the defense. This season, that experienced squad returned and became even more dominant.
Ten opponents were held to a touchdown or less by defensive coordinator Matt Snow's squad.
"The coaches always had a plan," West Point senior defensive lineman Terence Cherry said. "They always believed in us. That is why we had so much success. There is a lot of tradition here, so you want to play to uphold that tradition. Coach Chambless, coach Snow, coach (Roger) Burton, all of them gave us all the support possible to make us champions."
Now, the youth movement will begin. The Green Wave will take the field with a 28-game winning streak. They also will take the field with sophomores and juniors in key positions.
"We won't be backing down from anyone," Chambless said. "It will be a different team. However, there is a tradition around here. I think the players will embrace the challenge of winning a third-straight championship."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter