By Bryan Davis
Five games are down for the West Point Green Wave (4-1; 1-0), and there are six more to go in the 2010 regular season.
The first half of the season has been eventful, to say the least, for head coach Chris Chambless, his staff and his players.
For many teams, it’s easy to cast off the first few games of the season as less important than the latter half. After all, conference play usually doesn’t come around until about week four or five.
That’s not the case for the 2010 Green Wave. That’s not the case at all.
Each of the first five games, which have resulted in only one loss, have had a large measure of importance to them.
In week one, the Green Wave had to get revenge against Shannon for putting the only blemish on their 2009 season. Week two was when West Point put itself on the national map by beating one of Florida’s best programs at Daytona Beach.
Week four’s loss to Starkville was not only a fierce rivalry game, but it was also a wake up call to the Green Wave, as they let a 20-0 second half lead slip into a defeat. Week five was another rivalry game against Noxubee County, and last week’s win at Gentry gave West Point a 1-0 conference record for the season.
With more conference play and rival action to come tonight against New Hope, Chambless says that the best may be yet to come for a team defending the 5A State Title.
“As always, I like the effort,” Chambless said of his team’s first half. “I like the fact that we haven’t peaked out yet. We can get a lot better.”
During week four’s loss to Starkville, the Green Wave offense turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions. Going into tonight’s ball game, Chambless continues to stress fundamentals during practice.
“You can never get good enough in the fundamentals of the game,” Chambless said.
Blocking, tackling and assignments are things the Green Wave work on every day in practice.
“That’s something we’ll work on all year,” Chambless said. “Our defense tackles every day. The offense blocks every day, and we throw and catch every day.”
Every day improvements on the basics are key in West Point’s snow ball success pattern. In 2009, it seemed as if the Green Wave got better every time they came off the practice field.
From week six until the state championship game, the Green Wave went 10-0, and they did not score any less than 27 points in any of those games.
All of the similarities between last season and this one may not be realized for several weeks to come, but the Green Wave will enter tonight’s game with the same record (4-1) as they did when they faced the Trojans in 2009.
West Point ended up beating New Hope twice in 2009, the second time coming in the playoffs.
Can they repeat that great second half, starting with a win against the Trojans?
“We hope to do that this year,” Chambless said. “Nothing’s a guarantee until you do it. Actions speak louder than words, so we’re going to have to do that.”
One striking similarity Chambless does see between the Wave of 2009 and 2010 involves his players’ conduct off the field.
“Our behavior and character are very good at this point,” Chambless said. “That’s something, regardless of wins and losses, that we want to have in good circumstances and bad circumstances.”
Along with good grades, the individuals on the Green Wave roster have stayed clear of trouble for the most part in 2010.
“When you’re winning, it’s easy to have great character and do the things you’re supposed to do,” Chambless said. “When you’re not, that’s when your true character comes out.”
Though the Wave have only had to experience coming off losing weeks twice in their last 20 games, it would have been very easy for the players to have taken their frustrations out through misbehavior. This crew did not.
“You know that Starkville loss and last year’s Shannon loss,” Chambless said. “Our guys did not let that affect their character in a negative way. They came back, ready to work harder than ever and find out the cause of what happen. That’s something I’m proud of them for doing.”
Part of staying out of trouble is never being content. So far the 2010 Green Wave have shown they see the importance of the daily hard work that it takes to make it to the top.
“If I came to practice every day, telling our guys that we’re as good as we’re going to get, and let’s try and keep it up, we’ll never get any better,” Chambless said. “But we come to practice every day, telling them that we need to get better.”
The Green Wave are coming off back-to-back wins, the last one a 34-8 victory at Indianola. Can they get better than that? They know they have to because every game depends on it.
Kickoff tonight will be at 7 p.m.