By Paul Jones/Special to the Journal
STARKVILLE – Coming off back-to-back state championships, West Point head coach Chris Chambless and his squad got their first opportunity Saturday to face different uniforms. The end result was a 21-20 loss to Louisville in a 10-team jamboree held at Mississippi State.
But Chambless was not worried about the final score, he said.
“We had a script we wanted to go off of and wanted to see some things,” said Chambless. “It wasn’t a ‘W’ on the scoreboard but we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish.”
West Point and Louisville played two quarters featuring the varsity sandwiched around one quarter with the junior varsity. The opening quarter saw many offensive fireworks from both teams and Louisville ended the first quarter with a 21-12 lead.
As in the past, West Point used a strong running game to produce points. Senior quarterback Dequinton Spraggins got the scoring started with a 40-yard touchdown run. Spraggins is replacing former Green Wave quarterback Justin Cox, who was a two-year starter.
“It is a challenge but I have to keep my boys’ heads up and keep them focused,” said Spraggins. “My cousin Justin (Cox) was a great player and put up some good stats last year. But I accept that challenge of replacing him and I believe I can outdo what he did and lead us to another state championship. I just have to lead the offense and keep our heads up.”
Running back Tez Lane added another rushing touchdown in the first quarter. The West Point junior broke several tackles along the way and scored from 51 yards away. The Green Wave ground attack also featured junior Mario Virges and sophomore Aeris Lane. Virges capped off the scoring on the day with a five-yard touchdown run in the second and final quarter.
“Just run the ball hard and West Point football,” said Chambless. “We are going to be just fine there and we have some options on offense in running the ball. We also can pass well, too, and just had an off day today.”
The youthful West Point defense gave up several big plays in the passing game. But they were also without senior linebacker and former Houston transfer Charles Heard.
West Point opens the season Saturday night in a highly-touted home matchup with South Panola. Both programs have won two consecutive state championships and Chambless hopes the jamboree experience prepared his team somewhat for the season opener.
“It helps a lot,” said Chambless. “We have two returning starters on defense and then we had a big-time player (Heard) for us right now that had a car wreck last night.
“Like I told them after the scrimmage, you always learn valuable lessons. We never say the word ‘lose’. We say we are going to learn our lessons and go from there. We saw the things we wanted to work on and a lot of our stuff today was scripted.”