Green Wave advance for chance at fourth-straight 5A title

The West Point Green Wave celebrate after defeating Neshoba Central Friday night to advance to another state championship game. (Photo by Cal Brown, for Daily Times Leader )
For Daily Times Leader

All season the goal for the West Point Green Wave was to win a fourth-straight championship.

They will get that opportunity in Hattiesburg next weekend.

The Green Wave punched their ticket to another state championship appearance by defeating the Neshoba Central Rockets 20-7 in the North Class 5A final on Friday night.

West Point head coach Chris Chambless said that he was real proud that his team was able to put the game away in the second half.

“Our guys played great football tonight, and when we do that, we’re a hard team to beat,” Chambless said. “That’s kind of our forte – to play really good defense, take time off the clock and impose our will upon opponents.”

The Green Wave entered halftime with a 12-0 lead made up of touchdowns from Jakobe Pate and Kelviontae Gibbs, but the extra point tries for both scores failed.

It wasn’t until the end of the third quarter where it became a new ballgame when Neshoba Central running back Jarquez Hunter found the end zone to cut the West Point lead to 12-7, shifting the momentum in favor of the Rockets to start the fourth quarter.

That momentum was short-lived though, as Jim Mays scored the game-sealing touchdown with a minute to go, followed by a two-point conversion by Brandon Harris to mark the game’s final score at 20-7.
Mays said the game-sealing drive was big for his team.

“I mean, we worked so hard all year,” Mays said. “No one thought we were going to make it, but we did. I give my thanks to God, the coaches, teammates, and the community.”

The Green Wave defense showed out, allowing only seven points, forcing two turnovers on downs, and two sacks by defensive end Jequarius Thomas.

Thomas knew what the defense had to do going into Friday night to claim the North championship.

“Going into it, we knew they were going to run the ball,” Thomas said. “We prepared for it all week so we knew what to expect and we worked as a unit tonight.”

It goes without saying that the ultimate goal for any high school football player is to win a state title, but to win four in a row is very rare. That is what this year’s West Point senior class will be aiming to do next Saturday night.

Chambless has much respect for the senior class and the success those players continue to enjoy.

“It’s special,” Chambless said. “I get choked up thinking about what all they have done on this field the last four years. It’s unbelievable. I’m just proud to be a part of it. It’s a honor to coach this group of kids who come ready to work hard everyday. They’re fun to be around and they have great leadership.”

The Green Wave will look to earn their fourth consecutive state title next Saturday when they face the undefeated Picayune Maroon Tide at M.M. Roberts Stadium.