West Point starts football pracctice

Collin Brister
Sports Writer

West Point started the journey to repeat as state champions on Monday morning at 8 a.m. as they ran through position and tackling drills.

West Point won’t have a lot of time to get ready for their first real game competition, as they’ll take on Tupelo in a jamboree on August 12, before opening the regular season on Thursday, August 17 at home against Columbus.

West Point was able to win the 2016 state championship in dominating fashion, beating all four playoff opponents by three scores or more, while only allowing two meaningful offensive touchdowns in the playoff run.

They’ll have to replace a plethora of players, however, and the journey for those younger players started on Monday morning.

The Green Wave will have to replace voids left by Demario Edwards, Everitt Cunningham, Andre Lane and ‘Tae Hampton with younger players, but Monday showed that they were ready to embrace the challenged and to step into those roles.

West Point head coach Chris Chambless said that he wanted to use the first few weeks of practice to focus on mental toughness along with getting in shape and mastering the little things that allows them to be successful in tough situations during the season.

“We’re trying to get ahead,” Chambless said. “We know that we’re not going to be as sharp on the first day, but we want to be at a point where we can be ahead of the competition. We want to be able to do more at practice that any of our competition is doing and more than anyone that we play is doing, whether that’s special teams, offense or defense.”

Chambless said that the main thing he wants his team to do is end each day of practice ahead of where they ended the previous day’s practice.

The Green Wave will take on a new challenge this year, as they’ll have three different teams on their district schedule: Olive Branch, Grenada and Lafayette.

Olive Branch struggled last season, but they’ve recently won a 6A state championship and are usually littered with division-one athletes.

Grenada is a team that West Point eliminated from the playoffs in 2015, but the Chargers have been a constant force at the 5A level.

Lafayette won the 4A state championship and will likely be the toughest test for the Green Wave as they look to capture the district championship.

“Lafayette is coming off the state championship, and we know they’re really good,” Chambless said. “You can compare a lot of 4A and 5A teams. Grenada is coached by a good friend of mine, and they’re doing some of the same things that we do. Olive Branch always has division one athletes, and then you have Lake Cormorant that played for the north state championship last year. We’re going to have to approach the season like we’re everyone’s super bowl.”