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Road warriors

October 21, 2011

To get where he wants his team to be, West Point head football coach Chris Chambless knows his team has to check off certain goals first.

So, in order to be the last team standing in Jackson with a third straight state championship in December, Chambless believes his West Point Green Wave have to take care of their division first, which means winning a third straight Division 1-5A championship.

The Wave (5-3 overall, 4-0 in division) can take a big step toward that goal tonight, when they travel to face Center Hill (4-4, 3-1) for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

“This is what we play for, to win division and state championships,” said Chambless. “To do that, we have to continue working hard and playing as well as we can play. It won’t be easy, Center Hill is a good football team.”

While a win tonight wouldn’t clinch West Point’s third straight division crown, it would make it extremely likely. At 4-0 in division play, West Point has just three games left, and every team other than Center Hill has multiple losses within the district. Simply put, if West Point hands Center Hill its second loss tonight, then the Wave assures itself of at least a tie for the division championship with two games to go.

It won’t be easy, however, as Center Hill brings a physical, run-based attack into tonight’s showdown, an attack not too dissimilar from West Point’s offense, which leads Class 5A in rushing yards. The Mustangs, who have won three straight following a 34-14 loss to Oxford, rely heavily on senior running back Richard Hampton, who has rushed for 1,079 yards this season with 10 touchdowns. The Mustangs go as Hampton goes, as evidenced by a 30-28 win over Clarksdale last week, when the 5-11, 205-pounder collected 265 yards on 34 carries.

“He’s as good as we’ve seen all year,” said Chambless. “He’s big, he’s physical, and he has some speed. He is one of the best running backs in 5A.”

Hampton has topped the 100-yard mark in six of his team’s eight games this season, but he will have his hands full looking for running room against the West Point defense, which has yielded just under 70 rushing yards per game this season. Linebacker Brandon Edwards leads West Point with 48 tackles so far this season.

Offensively, West Point has been nearly unstoppable in four district games thus far, averaging 41 points per game during the 4-0 start. The Wave has done it on the strength of the best rushing attack in 5A, which has seen three backs top the 500-yard mark so far this season. Senior quarterback DeQuinton Spraggins leads the team with 683 yards and seven TDs; junior Tez Lane has 657 yards and nine TDs; and sophomore tailback Aries Williams has 584 yards and eight scores on the season.

“Our offense is really playing well right now,” said Chambless, whose offense scored six touchdowns in six possessions in last week’s 47-7 win over Saltillo. “We’ve got some big games coming up, so hopefully, we can continue to get better each week.”

West Point and Center Hill are set to kick off at 7 p.m. tonight in Center Hill, which is located in northeastern DeSoto County.

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