By Brandon Walker
Daily Times Leader
West Point fans, you’ve been summoned.
When the 2-0 Green Wave hit the field Friday night for their annual rivalry tussle with arch-rival Starkville, Green Wave head coach Chris Chambless has one wish: He wants the craziest crowd possible.
“This is a huge game, it always has been,” said Chambless, who has guided the Green Wave to 16 straight wins and the No. 1 ranking in Class 5A. “It’s going to be a challenge for us and we need all the support we can get. On Friday night, I hope our fans show that they are the best fans in the state of Mississippi. I hope to see a packed house Friday night and I hope they bring air horns, cowbells.....Whatever they can bring to give us a great atmosphere, we need their help. I’ve always said that West Point fans give us a huge advantage, and that’s what I hope we have every time we step on the field at home”
Chambless knows of what he speaks. Two weeks ago, Green Wave fans traveled en masse to Daytona Beach, Fla., and West Point’s estimated crowd of over 500 gave the Wave a distinct advnatge, despite being more than 1,200 miles away from home.
“It was almost like a home game,” Chambless said.
Now, returning home for their first game at Hamblin Stadium in three weeks, the defending 5A champs will face a stiff test from a rapidly improving Starkville squad.
First-year head coach Jamie Mitchell has quickly turned the Yellow Jacket program around, as evidenced by a 34-0 shellacking of Louisville two weeks ago. When the Jackets invade West Point on Friday night, Chambless knows they’ll be looking for a fight.
“This is a very good football team,” Chambless said of Starkville. “And in this rivalry, every game is going to be physical and it’s going to be a war.”
For West Point, Friday night offers a shot at a little history. With a win, West Point’s seniors could graduate with a perfect 4-0 record against Starkville, a fact not lost on their head coach.
“Beating your rival is always something to be proud of,” said Chambless. “For us, beating Starkville means a lot. And to be able to do it four years in a row says a lot about the way our players approach this game.”
West Point has beaten Starkville four years running and in five of the last six seasons. Still, Chambless knows his team needs every bit of support they can muster come Friday night.
“I believe the West Point fans are the main reason that we’ve been tough to beat at home in the last few years,” said Chambless, whose team has lost just twice at home since 2004. “Teams come in here and they see all these Green Wave fans and it really is an advantage. Hopefully, come Friday night, we’ll have the most fans we’ve had in a while. I want to see everybody that supports the Green Wave in the stands this Friday.”