November 14, 2010 1:45:00 AM
WEST POINT -- The West Point High School football team kicked off the postseason in grand fashion Friday night with a 36-14 whipping of Provine in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A playoffs.
A pair of runs put the Rams (5-7) on the scoreboard. Junior Jeremy Dotson broke away on a 55-yard run on the game''s opening drive. He later scored on a 3-yard run against a stunned defense. Senior Jadarius Hicks sprinted to a similar 99-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
In between Provine''s touchdowns, West Point (11-1), the defending Class 5A champion, dominated.
The duo of seniors Lakenderick Thomas and Justin Cox moved the ball at will in the first half. Thomas racked up 136 yards and three touchdowns despite sitting out the second half. Cox gained the majority of his 121 rushing yards, including a 42-yard touchdown run, in the first half.
Thomas seemed to have something to prove, initiating jarring contact on many of his runs. At one point, he moved what seemed like the entire Provine an additional 15 yards after contact by keeping his legs pumping.
"He loves football. He loves West Point. He loves the school and has a lot of pride and wants to play hard for everybody," West Point coach Chris Chambless said of Thomas. "He seems like he needs to put us on his shoulders and carry us. He''s a machine. He''s not going to complain about anything. He''s not going to tell you when he''s hurt, but he''s pretty banged up. But he''ll be there Monday when we start practicing."
Chambless said one focus in practice this week would be on finishing drives. However, Provine coach Willie Collins felt West Point finished the majority of its drives quite effectively.
"We knew they were good. They did a good job executing," Collins said. "I think they punted twice the whole ball game, but they first punted in the fourth quarter."
Collins said the playoff exposure will pay off next year for his young team. He only regrets Hicks -- a senior -- won''t be around to reap the benefits with his teammates.
Hicks led the Rams with 106 yards on seven rushes, but 99 of those yards came on the touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The long runs aside, West Point dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides at all times. The Green Wave held the Rams to two first downs and never let them get closer than their 42.
Junior linebacker Brandon Edwards had 11 tackles for the Green Wave.
Special teams were another bright spot. The punt coverage squad forced a safety on a bad snap in the first quarter, and kicker Eric Lemus placed several kickoffs and two punts inside the Provine 10.
West Point will travel to Oxford on Friday for a second-round playoff game. Oxford defeated Pearl 49-14. West Point beat Oxford 22-20 on Oct. 8 in West Point.