Spring football wrapup: Choctaw County

Staff Writer

When Ben Ashley took over as the head coach at Choctaw County and the school’s athletics director last spring, he had no intentions of settling for less than the best.

Ashley’s goal for his athletic department was to compete for the All-Sports award as the top department in Class 3A. The Chargers responded with district championships in girls and boys basketball with a trip to Jackson for both for the first time in school history and district titles in softball and golf.

Of course, the run all started with his team on the gridiron. The football squad won seven-straight games and made it to the third round of the playoffs before falling to North Panola. Choctaw County was a perfect 5-0 in Region 4 in Ashley’s first year and produced one of the state’s most suffocating defenses.

After a 10-3 first season, Ashley now has instilled his expectations in his team. The Chargers took the next step this spring as they were back on the field and pushing for even more in 2018.

“I’m very excited about our spring,” Ashley said. “We went up to Saltillo and beat them 12-6 and tied Senatobia 6-6. We traveled an hour and a half to go play, but I wanted to play a 5A and 4A football team. We’re breaking in a new quarterback and I wanted him to play fast.”

That quarterback is Tylan Carter, who is a sophomore who is replacing senior Austin Telano. Though he’s new to starting for Ashley in varsity, the coaching staff is thrilled with his potential.

The same goes for the rest of the players in Ashley’s Wing-T offense as it has been set into place for a full year. Ashley calls the Wing-T “a culture” and something that players must buy into for it to be successful.
For Ashley and Choctaw County it's so far, so good.

“They’re growing in it now," Ashley said. "The expectation is there so I’m hoping all we’re going to see is growth. We shuffled some guys around and we have our system in. There was a lot of retention from the small sample we had which made the spring go so much better.”

Ashley’s culture also lies in the defensive side of the football where he’s coached at a high level in his previous stops. Last year, the Chargers were one of the best in the state on that side as they surrendered 12 points per game, held teams to single digits five times and had three shutouts.

There will be some talent missing on defense like Tanner Threadgill, Isaiah Hannah, Jalen Esters and Moe Hardin. There’s also much to like about the future on defense as Ashley is beginning to accumulate depth.

“I’m really excited about that group because I’ve got every one of my guys back in the secondary,” Ashley said. “We led 3A last year in points surrendered so we feel good about that. We’re two deep in the defensive front. We’ve got to continue to work at linebacker, but we’re going to be fine.”

The real work is about to begin in the form of summer workouts.

Choctaw County will prepare for its season in the weight room and then start a tough schedule in the fall.

The Chargers play a jamboree game with Class A runners-up Nanih Waiya on August 10 before opening the season at home against East Webster. They’ll also play Class 2A runners-up Winona and Eupora in non-conference play before starting a tough district slate as they defend their conference title. 

(Editor's Note: This is the second part of a series highlighting area high school football teams after spring practice and going into summer conditioning.)