September 9, 2010 8:28:00 AM
Timing has worked out in West Point High School''s football team the past two seasons.
The Green Wave used an early bye week last season to help refocus after a surprising loss to Shannon. This year''s bye week has been about recovery.
The Green Wave (2-0) beat Mainland (Fla.) 14-0 on Aug. 27 in Daytona Beach, Fla., before their game last week at Columbus was canceled to avoid a scheduling snafu and to comply with the 11-game, Mississippi High School Activities Association limit.
The rest couldn''t have come at a better time for West Point, whose players endured their highest level of physicality, coach Chris Chambless said.
"One of the most physical games I''ve ever been a part of," Chambless said, "all over the field, but up front especially."
West Point will play host to Starkville High (1-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, hoping to match the spirit and effort of a rejuvenated, yet bad-luck stricken Yellow Jackets side.
While Starkville played well last week in a 14-7 loss at Meridian, its offense continued to struggle to score. The Yellow Jackets faced a similar scenario a 14-7 loss to Noxubee County.
The cards are stacking up against Starkville, as a pair of season-ending injuries to receivers Gabe Myles (collarbone) and Kentrell Spencer (medial and collateral ligaments) has dealt a blow to a passing offense still looking to take off. Running back Kentrell Spencer is still sidelined after breaking his jaw against Noxubee County.
Despite the circumstances Starkville faces in its first year under head coach Jamie Mitchell, Chambless believes in sporting ideology surpassing odds.
"When you play hard like they''ve been, good things are going to happen," Chambless said. "We were over there yesterday for a B-team game, and you could just see it''s the whole demeanor. There''s an overall swagger."
How that confidence relates to inexperienced wideouts junior Eddie Brown and sophomore Jimmy Saulsberry will determine how effective Starkville''s offense will be Friday. Mitchell said Saulsberry excites the coaching staff but is still learning the system. Mitchell admits the team''s reliance on its core group of skilled position seniors will increase.
"(Jakarta) Agnew has been a workhorse and Garrett (Smith) has played tremendously," Mitchell said of his running backs. "We''ll still try to spread it around, but we''ve got to have that breakout offensive game. We''ve had drives stall, and when you go back and look at the film, literally, it''s four or five plays. It''s a tipped ball here or a dropped ball there that''s causing drives to stall or touchdowns not to be made."
West Point allowed only 107 yards against Mainland, while running back Lakenderic Thomas and Justin Cox combined for 192 rushing yards. Chambless said the key to the off week was part fundamental work and part critical analysis. West Point beat one of Florida''s top programs in the Florida vs. USA Gridiron Challenge but only scratched the surface of its potential.
"You''re always going to be critical of your team," Chambless said. "From coaches'' point of view, we see the mistakes we made. I tell the players the plus side of the game is we played so hard and came out on top with the mistakes we made. Then we come back and show them the mistakes and let them know if we can eliminate mistakes we''d be so much better."